Every year, the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) awards 10 projects that exemplify both sustainable and beautiful design. Each of the following recipients from 2015’s COTE Top Ten have either transformed or taken advantage of elemental aspects of the natural world to complement and achieve their energy efficiency goals.
New Orleans BioInnovation Center by Eskew+ Dumez+Ripple and NBBJ: The differing standards of various tenants in this lab require the air to be flushed up to 10 changes per hour. Operable windows are also largely not allowed, due to specific conditions for certain experiments. But by using the returning air from offices as a diluent for the air supply of the labs, conditioned comfort can be shared with the office areas at a very reasonable energy cost. Each lab is also able to independently control its own Independent airflow and temperature controls also allow researchers to tailor their ventilation levels.
Federal Center South Building 1202 by ZGF Architects: Located on the banks of the Duwamish Waterway in Seattle, this workspace for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers converted its 4.6-acre site from 100 percent impervious to 50 percent pervious landscape. The ghosts of industry are still present in the nearby Albert Kahn–designed former Ford Motor Co. Assembly Plant and a cement plant, but the Environmental Protection Agency is cleaning up the surrounding area in an effort to increase use of the new site and bike trails.
Hughes Warehouse Adaptive Reuse by Overland Partners: Located in San Antonio, the original building was largely shielded behind a double-wythe brick wall. Opening it up to the outside world was a necessity. The architects added windows along the east and west façades and a glass curtainwall to a newly inserted courtyard. The once-ensconced building is now awash with natural light: Views to the outside are available in almost 99 percent of the floor area and 60 percent of the office floor area is within 15 feet of an operable window.
The Bullitt Center by the Miller Hull Partnership: Designed to replicate the water recycling capabilities of a Douglas fir forest, this Seattle project aims to use rainwater as the supply for 100 percent of its water needs. All of the water collected from the roof is treated and stored in a 56,000-gallon cistern as nonpotable water for the building’s operations. (Permits are out now to transform it into potable water). Even the waste is valued: Foam flush toilets and urinals deliver what is known as “blackwater” to composing units in the basement, where it is used to fertilize the nearby soil.
For more on the COTE Top Ten, visit aiatopten.org.
This non-profit lab/office exists to help ideas conceived locally to become local jobs and industries. NOBIC is a four-story, 64,500 ft2 structure adjacent to New Orleans’s historic French Quarter, downtown university campuses, and the Treme neighborhood.
Built on a brownfield site, this LEED Gold research facility includes labs, offices, a 100-person conference center, breakout spaces and a café. The design reinterprets vernacular regional climate-responsive strategies—the slatted shutter, the landscaped courtyard water feature, and the sheltered porch—to provide a facility that is modern but undeniably New Orleans.
This project also helps local innovators develop new businesses in a very New Orleans way—with a spatial organization that promotes chance meeting, social interaction, and improvisational collaboration, inviting busy people to linger centered on the porch or the garden.
Sometimes good intentions need proper structure—a process, as architects like to say. This was clearly the case for Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), the award-winning New Orleans firm that has played a key role in the post-Katrina revival of the Crescent City. Until recently, EDR’s approach to pro bono work was loose and informal, but as the firm grew in recent years, that became unwieldy and ultimately unsatisfying. “We’d done extensive pro bono work in the past, but without focus,” says Jose Alvarez, a principal at EDR. As a result, those efforts seemed to dissipate quickly. “We were looking to create stronger community bonds and more meaningful results,” he adds.
Out of that desire to connect was born the firm’s MLK Day of Service program. Held for the first time in January 2015 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the idea—originally hatched by Alvarez—combines the firm’s annual research fellowship with a firm-wide day of service. (In 2015 its theme was community engagement.) As a first step, EDR’s research fellow and event organizer Nicole Joslin sent out RFP’s to community groups citywide in need of design services. Ten proposals were reviewed by an internal committee of the firm, which narrowed the list to eight. “We gave a presentation to the full staff of the eight, and then asked them to vote on their first and second choices,” says Sabeen Hasan, a project architect and member of the selection committee. The top four finishers were chosen to participate in the program.
When the archdiocese of New Orleans decided to build a new chapel at St. Pius X parish, in the city’s Lake Vista subdivision, they weren’t looking to expand the 1963 church building, but rather to create a separate—and much smaller—space for quiet contemplation. So the team at local firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR) set about designing a grace note: a 571-square-foot freestanding chapel and attached prayer garden that sit in the shadow of, but are not dwarfed by, the existing 13,850-square-foot church. In fact, the distinctive faceted geometry of the copper-roofed church influenced the new chapel’s sculpted form.
“How do we show appropriate respect for the architecture, but build something new that can carry its own weight?” EDR partner Mark Ripple, AIA, asked at the project’s inception. And especially when the mandate was for something so small and distinct: “A Eucharistic adoration chapel is a very specific Catholic design program,” Ripple says, meant for quiet reflection in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The result is two volumes: An 8-foot-tall foyer that leads to a 18-foot-tall worship space in which “the tabernacle is unequivocally the focus,” project architect Christian Rodriguez, AIA, says. There’s not even a crucifix: The architects imply a cross form with canted white walls grazed by daylight from a side window.
The design fosters a sense of the intimate and eternal, with natural light entering from three sources—the tall, thin window to the left of the tabernacle, a clerestory above the worshipper’s heads, and a low window that gives a focused view to the outside. “You can see plants wiggle in the wind,” Rodriguez says. “It provides a bit of relief and a connection with nature.”
The overall palette of materials is equally simple, to balance the sense of the sacred with a tight budget. The exterior is predominantly cement plaster with copper details—the inverse of the main church’s exterior. Inside, the floor is an engineered stone, and gypsum board is used for the walls and ceilings. Walnut veneer is deployed in a screen between the entry and sanctuary, as a counter for reading materials, and to frame the tabernacle. What wasn’t part of the initial program is the prayer garden to the north of the chapel, which was added so that its absorbent planting beds could help with flood control—an important consideration in Lake Vista, which is built on land reclaimed from nearby Lake Ponchartrain.
“Good church architecture encourages you to put the secular behind,” Ripple says. EDR’s chapel manages to achieve this goal by deftly creating a small structure that evokes the eternal through a compelling interplay of form and light, focusing the attention of the parish community upon the ineffable.
Who had the best 2014? The competition for this year’s Architect 50 was especially fierce, as many firms posted massive gains in revenue. We updated our methodology to include new metrics: percentage of women and minority designers; range and value of employee benefits; rate of employee turnover. Many respected firms missed the cut; some small boutique firms rose through the ranks. The result? A list featuring a diverse array of great practices.
Check out the list to find out which firms rose to the top, and discover who made the cut in each of the three categories: business, sustainability, and design. To find out how we generated the rankings, read our methodology, and take a look at some of the data submitted by firms.
Post-occupancy evaluation, or POE, is a diverse practice that can feed back data into the design process on everything from energy and water consumption to workplace satisfaction and even occupants’ sleep cycles. According to sustainability-minded architects, POE is a prerequisite to closing the all-too-frequent gap between predicted and actual performance.
“If we want to design high-performing buildings that use very little energy, it’s imperative that we be able to predict the impact of our design decisions. We have to get to that point,” says Shawn Préau, an associate at New Orleans–based Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.
Many architects recognize that tracking the performance of their designs is good practice, and say they are ready to face the results, be they flattering or not. Yet POEs remain far from standard practice. “We’re putting all these technologies and strategies into buildings, but, most of the time, as architects, we’re not benefiting from the feedback loop,” says Ilana Judah, principal and director of sustainability at FXFOWLE.
A recent survey on the state of play of POEs affirms Judah’s take. The survey, conducted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill associate Julie Hiromoto, garnered responses from 29 U.S. and Canadian architecture firms. Most expressed a desire to perform POEs, but only 18 of 29 are actually conducting them. Most did so on less than 5 percent of projects completed in the previous year.
The air conditioning failed almost immediately and the emergency generator didn’t last much longer. The backup generator eventually drowned in floodwater. After the storm, people who had sloshed their way to high ground were turned away from the overtaxed stadium. Elsewhere in New Orleans, buildings that were designed as mission critical facilities experienced similar failures for sheltering human life.
Superstorm Sandy nearly three years ago had a lower loss of life but also caused a huge amount of damage. As in New Orleans, critical building systems in New York City were quickly submerged in basements that never experienced floods at that level before.
These storms are two of the most expensive in U.S. history in terms of damage done, lives lost, businesses destroyed and people who lost their homes. Hard lessons were learned and helped spur a growing interest in making buildings and communities resilient.
The rebuilding of New Orleans 10 years after Hurricane Katrina is as patchwork and kaleidoscopic as the city itself. A line of slab buildings approaching completion along Canal Street near the downtown looks impressive—an image bound for the cover of economic-development brochures. The buildings are part of a 70-acre, $2.7 billion two-hospital replacement plan designed by two teams led by NBBJ. Like so much else about the reconstruction of the city that sat for weeks in a soup of fetid water after disastrous levee failures, the hospital project has been both controversial (displacing residents in a city awash in vacant land) and seen as a good thing for the jobs it will create.
An unpredicted wave of investment and renovation has come to the charming shotgun houses and cottages of high-ground neighborhoods like the Marigny, Bywater, and Holy Cross that line the river. Before the storm, they had languished. Many schools known for their dysfunction and dilapidation have been handsomely restored or replaced, if with ungainly but functional boxes. Population has steadily grown but remains 100,000 lower than it was pre-Katrina.
For all the destruction and lives lost or permanently altered, there’s a broad consensus that the city works better and offers greater opportunity than it did before the storm. Local governance is more responsive and seems to be less corrupt.
The new hospitals of the downtown medical center, by contrast, are built much more robustly, a response to the horror of hospitals completely disabled by Katrina. NBBJ, with Blitch Knevel Architects, has designed the Alexander Academic Research Hospital to run for a week without outside support or supplies. No critical functions are located lower than 21 feet above the base flood elevation. Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has similarly raised the New Orleans East Hospital emergency room. It is reached by an ambulance ramp that can be used as a boat launch should flooding make streets impassible.
Harvard researcher carrying a sample through a brand new high-performance lab hip-checks a button on the wall and hurriedly walks through a sliding door. Realizing she’s forgotten something, the researcher abruptly turns around—and walks smack into the glass. Apparently this happens a lot.
Has the IQ of Harvard researchers dropped in the last couple years? No—unless it’s from having their brains addled by walking into self-closing doors. The problem was the timing of the door, not the people using it, suggests Andrea Love, AIA, building science director at Payette and the architect who witnessed this scene of lab slapstick during a post-occupancy review. “There was a very easy adjustment. You just change the setting so it’s open longer.”
Maybe you’re thinking it isn’t a designer’s job to be on the spot to make that kind of adjustment. If so, you’re not alone: that is how the industry has worked for a long time. But you need to rethink that assumption, according to a growing movement of design professionals focused on ensuring that buildings in use actually achieve their design intent. Right down to the little things, like door timers.
Measure, Then Manage, Post-Occupancy Success
Many people associate the term post-occupancy evaluation (POE) with a one-time online survey provided to occupants. There’s actually much more to a holistic post-occupancy review.
What a POE measures A full post-occupancy evaluation will likely examine several of the following:
The team then compares measured data, interview and focus group results, and ethnographic observations to the original design intent in order to determine the success of each factor evaluated.
Corrective action may follow. But not always: fixes might be considered unnecessary (perhaps things are working fine, if not exactly as designed). They might be unnecessarily disruptive or expensive. In these cases, the review becomes valuable mainly as a way to inform future design decisions. Are you ready to play “Not My Job”?
Z Smith, AIA, who has a background in physics, says that in his former field, “You have a hypothesis, and then you test it.” He was surprised to find out that architecture isn’t really like that.
“It seems like all architects do is make hypotheses, and they’ve never tested them.” So when it’s time to design the next project and the one after that, they just do the same thing over and over without knowing whether it had worked the first time. In his role as director of sustainability and building performance at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, Smith is trying to change this paradigm.
The conventional model clearly doesn’t serve occupants or building owners—but it doesn’t serve designers either, Smith argues. He and many others are starting to see post-occupancy research and engagement as a learning opportunity as well a marketing and business opportunity. But he says it also just makes sense.
There’s no “setting and forgetting” when it comes to research in practice for Z Smith, AIA, a researcher with a physics background and a doctorate in engineering who is a principal and director of sustainability and building performance at New Orleans–based Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR).
“Most design presentations are a string of hypotheses,” he says. “Now, with the rise in prominence of environmental architecture, they predict that the building will use less energy or less water. But the funny thing is that as I got into architecture I learned that architects almost never go back to find out if that is true.”
For the past five years, evidenced-based design has been a key to the success of EDR. Performing routine checkups (keeping tabs on energy bills) and deeper dives (quantifying the success or failure of collaborative space) both strengthen the case for research while providing results both trivial and profound. For instance, Smith says, collaborative space can be a complete flop just because the office coffee pot was removed for aesthetic reasons. “It looks really great in the photographs,” he says, “but it’s not really a cozy and comfortable space for two people.”
While research can become a budget line item, it certainly beats designing and wasting money based on hunches, he says. “My initial interest in doing research into achieved building performance well past the one-year warranty period was for building our credibility and winning the kind of work we want to win,” says Smith. “We like the jobs where the clients actually care how the buildings work.”
José Alvarez, AIA, is a 2015 AIA Young Architect Award recipient and a principal at New Orleans’ Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), the 2014 AIA Architecture Firm Award recipient. Alvarez has led the design of a diverse group of award-winning projects at EDR. He’s also committed his free time to volunteering for the Louisiana chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), AIA New Orleans, and local youth programs.
My interests really grew out of our firm’s philosophy. Allen Eskew was an important mentor for me, as he always encouraged me to be as engaged as possible. It’s about growing as a designer while building the culture of the firm, as well as leadership and mentorship. All of those ideas coalesce in my work as the president of NOMA Louisiana, where I focus on programs with positive social impact, education, and the issues of diversity in the profession. An architect certainly should care about design, but an architect also has the responsibility to mentor—to pass along their understanding of the profession to others. It perpetuates itself.
NOMA’s Project Pipeline creates a continuum of mentorship. The reason we start at the high school level is because, after analyzing the data, there are still a small number of minority students interested in architecture and fewer that matriculate—and graduate—from architecture schools.
Project Pipeline guides young kids and architecture students at each critical step, creating a lasting mentorship network as each person may elect to mentor a younger student. That process of mentoring helps our members reaffirm their interest in architecture, and supports them through architecture school. The program further extends to support the Intern Development and Architect Registration Examination processes.
In my career, I’ve had a chance to work on a wide range of building types. As a design-first advocate, I’m more concerned with the experience, the successful resolution of the spatial condition, and its detailing, rather than saying that I’m a specialist that focuses on one thing, like healthcare design or hospitality design. I remember starting as an intern with a work visa, certainly not expecting to be in this position by this time in my career. Thankfully, my firm created an environment for me to seek and develop my talents at different stages of my career. If a firm is committed to you, it will foster your shifts in curiosity and ability.
In New Orleans’ central business district, there’s a building that speaks to the future as it references the past. The aluminum brise-soleil façade, with its uneven array of horizontal shades, projects an interplay of light and shadow against the glazing behind the panels. It creates a dappled effect on the cool terrazzo flooring of the lobby inside. Just beyond an interior glass wall is the inner courtyard; though slightly obscured by the dance of shadows, it has the timeless feel of a place of respite as the fountain at the center cascades water through sun-bathed foliage into an old alabaster basin.
Although it is reminiscent of a 19th-century French Quarter compound with louvered shutters and a breezy courtyard to water horses, the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC) has a thoroughly 21st century purpose: to support biotech start-ups in Louisiana and solidify the industry as a mainstay of the region’s economy. Twelve blocks from the Mississippi River up Canal Street—a broad right-of-way once intended for barges and now a bustling jamboree of the city’s cultural colors mixed with equal parts of its entrepreneurial ambitions—NOBIC has become a quiet incubator of southern Louisiana’s future.
Rivers were the highways in early America, the arteries that led settlers into the rich interior of the continent and the meandering network that funneled a continent’s worth of raw materials to the port cities where they were processed, consumed, and traded. First came furs by canoe and timber via rafts and flumes; later, livestock and grains passed on barges and steamboats, fueling America’s rural economy well into the 20th century. With the flood of natural resources from the hinterlands, river cities became industrial powerhouses, generating immense wealth and establishing the United States as an economic titan.
The Mississippi River | New Orleans
The Menomonee and Grand rivers both eventually reach the sea south of Newfoundland where the St. Lawrence River rips open the northeast corner of the continent, delivering the massive effluent of the Great Lakes basin to the churning Atlantic. On an unassuming rise just 30 miles from Milwaukee is an invisible line where a drop of rainwater has a 50/50 chance of entering the Menomonee-Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed, or trickling into a very different environment, headed south to the city of New Orleans.
The Great Lakes Basin may hold the largest freshwater reserve on the continent, but the Mississippi basin has by far the widest reach, extending its net into 31 states and two Canadian provinces. By the time it reaches New Orleans, the Mississippi looks nothing more than a living thing all its own, a leviathan snaking its way to the Gulf. Its main channel is nearly a mile wide, and the delta stretches out across the entirety of southern Louisiana. As a funnel for the commerce, culture, history, and sediment of the United States, it is the perfect natural allegory for the endearing chaos of the Crescent City’s well-simmered melting pot.
The French originally laid out the city along a crescent-shaped natural levee in 1718. “The way rivers work is that they build up sediment on the outside of a horseshoe bend where the water slows down,” says George Hargreaves, a landscape architect, “so this part of New Orleans is actually out of the flood plain.” His firm, Hargreaves Associates, is helping stitch the city back to its namesake landform after a long and awkward divorce.
The intent to reclaim the derelict industrial land along the river for a greater civic purpose began well before Hurricane Katrina brought the city and its vulnerable relationship to the Mississippi into the spotlight. Over the last 10 years, a plan to create an uninterrupted linear park along six miles of the waterfront has slowly gained momentum—Crescent Park, which encompasses the first 1.4 miles of the plan, opened to the public this past spring.
Though the idea was seeded before the disaster, it has come to represent a conscious choice on the part of civic leaders about what New Orleans can become as it rises from the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. A plan known as “Reinventing the Crescent” calls for much more than a riverfront park—it outlines a vision for urban development based on an entrepreneurial and artisan-based economy, rather than oil, gas, and other resource-driven industries. New Orleans remains an active shipping port, but there is little in the way of processing and manufacturing for the products moved on and off the big ocean liners. That occurs overseas or upstream in the heartland, where real estate is less valuable.
“It happened at a time when the city was thinking about its ability to be resilient, not only in the face of a systemic environmental shock, but a large economic one as well,” says Cristina Ungureanu, a planner and urban designer at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), the firm that led the planning process for the city. A report commissioned by the city in 2008 estimated that the $294 million plan would generate 24,000 permanent jobs and more than $60 million in annual state and local tax revenue once complete, giving an internal rate of return of 18 percent over 30 years.
Even on a particularly airless late-summer evening, the appeal of the Bywater, a once-working-class New Orleans neighborhood just downriver from the French Quarter, cuts through the oppressive humidity. Rows of century-old shotgun houses and Creole cottages—some brightly painted, others romantically disheveled—line overgrown blocks crisscrossed with telephone wires. On some weeknights, ramshackle corner bars serve free red beans and rice as musicians hold court in packed rooms. Every now and then, a train whistle echoes through the otherwise sleepy streets. The whole neighborhood has long had a languorous, tumbledown charm.
But now, at one of several culinarily ambitious cafés, restaurants, and bars to open in the last few years, you can order a sampling of small plates inspired by street food from around the world or, down the street, sip a brunch cocktail made with rye, bitters, and fennel foam. It’s a delicious development, but it has many New Orleans residents nervous about the changing neighborhood.
In the nine years since Hurricane Katrina, gentrification has accelerated in Bywater, along with Faubourg Trémé, St. Roch, and other downtown districts rich with historic houses, as New Orleans has become a magnet for newcomers. The poster city for disaster recovery has given way to a place making headlines for its art, film, and technology scenes. This phenomenon has drawn many new arrivals who gravitate toward the neighborhoods that embody the city’s cultural life. Bywater rents for new listings have climbed by 20 percent every year going back to 2011. Along with post-Katrina displacement, shuttered schools, and other factors, these soaring housing costs have pushed out many longtime residents.
Every year, we approach the ARCHITECT 50 with the same premise. It may be impossible to capture every way in which a firm can excel, have a significant impact on its community, mentor a younger generation of designers, and help save the planet with its energy-efficient buildings. But we nevertheless strive to compile a list that recognizes firms small and large, who are making their mark beyond just their ability to run a financially lucrative business. This year, we added a few new data points, capturing information on how firms are helping their interns gain licensure, both through financial incentives and culture. And we asked firms to submit a portfolio with an energy-efficient project that best exemplified their commitment to sustainability (ARCHITECT editors judged those submissions). When we ran the numbers (check out our methodology here), some familiar firms rose to the top, some newcomers rocketed into the top 10, and some unexpected interlopers crashed the proceedings. In the end, the exact positions may not capture the full extent of how firms are excelling. But we hope that the list inspires architects to review their own best practices and embrace even higher ambitions.
Carrying a firm on after the founders are gone requires planning but isn’t right for every practice.
Bjarke Ingels, who is only 39, would like to have one, soon. “The reason succession plans don’t work,” he says, “is that people start to think about them much too late.”
By contrast, Daniel Libeskind, 68, says he doesn’t need a succession plan. He sees his architecture firm as the equivalent of an artist’s studio - one that could well expire when he does.
But most architecture firms are more than artist’s studios - they are companies with payrolls to meet and projects to complete; keeping a firm going when a founder dies can be an economic and practical necessity - as well as a tribute to a mentor and creative force. Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, of New Orleans, had three partners, seven principals, and 48 employees last December when its founding partner, Allen Eskew, died unexpectedly. Just two days later, it was named firm of the year by the AIA - based in part on its commitment to encouraging young talent.
That commitment paid off: six months after Eskew’s death, the firm is thriving and “building on the legacy Allen created,” says partner Steve Dumez, 55. It helps, he says, that Eskew+Dumez+Ripple was never balkanized. “In terms of client contact,” Dumez says, “we had found ways to overlap, or double-team, if you will, on most key projects.”
From the 1930s, Olivetti, the manufacturer of business products, was widely regarded as the pioneer of corporate architecture. During the 1990s, the concept became firmly established as a basic component of a corporate identity. Architecture and design are used to control the interior and exterior image of company headquarters and office buildings, to production sites and store interiors. Corporate architecture includes both individual projects ranging from high rises to trade fair booths, as well as company-wide design schemes such as that of the Apple stores around the world.
The vitalizing and expressive power of architecture as a ‘business card made of stone’ intends to reflect the self-image of a company and a brand’s identity with the aim of expressing the corporate philosophy through architectural symbolism and constructional cultural qualities. Representing very different approaches, the examples from around the world gathered in this book present the whole scope of this extensive topic.
At the 2014 AIA National Convention in Chicago later this month, Steve Dumez will be taking a bow alongside Mark Ripple as the two remaining partners of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR) accept the 51st Architecture Firm Award. The celebration will be bittersweet, Dumez says, in light of founder Allen Eskew’s unexpected death just two days prior to the AIA’s announcing the honor last December.
In that statement, the AIA cited deep social engagement as being among EDR’s merits for recognition. Dumez, who also is the firm’s director of design, credits Eskew for prompting public service at all levels. “There was always this sense that firm leaders would serve on boards, AIA committees - the variety of ways a principal gets involved in the community - and I say that Allen’s legacy is that we also expect every staff member to find some means to get engaged.”
Dumez emphatically acknowledges the figures he and Eskew modeled themselves on. “Both Allen and myself worked with Charles Moore, so the notion of a participatory design that listens to clients while engaging a really broad spectrum of the community is something we’ve been committed to for decades,” he says of the 1991 AIA Gold Medal-winning architect. He also cited the immersive workshops of 1972 firm winner Caudill Rowlett Scott as another influence. Yet, unlike EDR, they never conducted their work in a setting as charged as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and EDR’s experience in leading rebuilding “certainly intensified” its efforts to program and design places that achieve consensus among numerous stakeholders and challenge preconceived notions of architectural expression. “I think partly the AIA is recognizing the hard work we’ve had to do in our community after Katrina,” Dumez says.
The EDR partner notes that, in New Orleans, public participation in redevelopment and new building projects remain high, and that community activism is becoming more prevalent in the architecture profession generally. If Dumez were to assign meaning to this year’s award, then “it might simply by an understanding that it shouldn’t take a catastrophe to get engaged within a community.” He adds: “There were many opportunities in the aftermath of Katrina where simply doing things expeditiously could have been in order. For us, design excellence and the kind of community we wanted to build was never jettisoned, and in some cases those difficult circumstances made our values stronger.”
To understand the architectural philosophy underpinning the work of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), it helps to consider the humble parking space. In New Orleans, where the firm is based, city code requires a 20-foot length for a car, but why use pavement for the entire span, particularly in a waterfront city prone to flooding? “The car can extend beyond a green space just as well,” says Mark Ripple, AIA, partner and director of operations at EDR. “So you use the final 2 feet of a parking space on each end, carve out 2 feet in the middle, plant native vegetation that doesn’t require maintenance, and you have a 6-foot bioswale.”
In a heavy storm, that parking spot becomes a small containment area minimizing water running into the main storm drain system. It’s a common-sense redesign that works for a water-clogged place like New Orleans. Yet even with a simple idea such as this, Ripple says, “the challenge isn’t figuring out the technology or the design, the challenge is questioning the existing idea of how we design and solve problems.”
Architectural Record has been recognizing fruitful firm-client collaborations for 17 years with its annual Good Design is Good Business (GDGB) awards to demonstrate how embracing design can benefit an organization’s bottom line. This year’s 10 winners include not only such singular projects as the City of Dallas Performance Hall by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple but also a variety of client-driven relationships that aim to reap long-term dividends. Shoe manufacturer Camper, for instance, has commissioned more than 20 top designers in over 30 years to create its imaginative shops and properties around the world; while Marc Jacobs International has been working with one firm, Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects, for the past 15 years as it’s grown from start-up to stardom. Each corroborates the notion that design matters and seeks to raise the bar for its unique enterprise.
It’s become a cliche of inexorable march of real estate development: A once-treasured building, razed or left to rot or transformed into condos or a parking garage. The country is littered with the skeletons of once-glorious palaces of cinema and stage—too gorgeous to tear down, too massive and unprofitable to fix up.
So when you hear the story of New Orleans’ Civic Theatre—the oldest theater in one of our most history-saturated cities—it’s impossible not to expect it to end the same way as Chicago’s rotting Uptown Theatre or Detroit’s now-a-parking-garage Michigan Theatre. And, indeed, it almost does.
Let’s back up: The Civic is a performance palace based smack in the center of the city’s Central Business District, mere blocks from the frenzied French Quarter. It first opened its doors in 1906 as the work of the Shubert brothers, those theatrical pioneers who are credited with establishing New York’s Broadway theater district. Back then, the Civic was known as The Shubert, and was the brothers’ first venue outside of New York. Over the years, the space went through a revolving door of names and functions. It morphed into the Star, the Lafayette, the Poché, the Civic. It hosted plays, vaudeville, burlesque, film. Cecil B. Demille put on a production, and performers such as Mae West graced its stage. In the 1970s, it even spent a spell as a disco.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, the 2014 winner of the Architecture Firm Award, has played a major role in shaping the New Orleans waterfront—both before and after Hurricane Katrina.
Since the firm’s early days, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has coupled modern design with sensitivity to New Orleans’s unique history and ecology. In 1984, Eskew served as the studio director for the World’s Fair in Louisiana, leading a team of architects who planned and designed work on the New Orleans waterfront. Twenty-one years later, after the Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the city tapped Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to master-plan the urban riverfront.
The 48-employee firm is currently redeveloping a 6.2-mile stretch of the city’s riverfront—phase one in a master plan that won an AIA Honor Award for urban development in 2012.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has designed projects across Louisiana, but the one that stands tallest is 930 Poydras—a 21-story residential tower in New Orleans, a city not known for its high-rises.
Walking through the former Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital, a facility in New Orleans East that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, was an eerie experience, said Glenn Boardman, associate director of the healthcare real estate practice at Navigant Consulting Inc.
“Every patient room calendar was stuck on Sept 5,” he described.
Boardman and Mark Ripple, partner at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, shared this and other details of the 2005 storm’s aftermath as part of the session “Repurposing an Acute Care Hospital—Against All Odds” during the Healthcare Design Conference on Sunday.
The hospital never reopened after the storm, nor was the community redeveloped. The question of exactly what should be done with this eastern arm of New Orleans was one that played out in local and national politics.
For the fifth year, our annual ranking of U.S. architecture firms finds the best ... not necessarily the biggest.
Most lists of top architecture firms are nothing more than a straight-up ranking of top revenue-producers. Not the ARCHITECT 50. Now in its fifth year, the program aspires to much more: A qualitative look at how firms stack up across a broad range of categories, from business to sustainability to design. We consider net revenue per employee, profits invested in research, and energy-efficiency metrics (how well firms are meeting the AIA’s 2030 challenge, for instance). To measure design excellence, we asked firms for the first time to submit project portfolios, and had an esteemed panel of judges score them. The result? This year’s list features perennial heavyweights such as Skidmore, Owings & Merill, but also design darlings like John Ronan and Julie Snow. Paul Murdoch Architects showed that small firms can compete with big multinationals.
Ten brownfields sprout new life.
The redevelopment of brownfields offers the potential to stitch abandoned or underused industrial and commercial properties back into the fabric of a city and help suburban sprawl. The degree to which elements of previous uses are retained or replaced varies widely depending on the type of project and its purpose and whether it is celebrating a city’s industrial past or erasing the memory of blight. The following ten projects – all completed during the past five years – represent creative restorations of unused land, ranging from the transformation of an old brickyard into a center for environmental and socially responsible nonprofits to the construction of a new branch of Louvre Museum on top of an old coal mine.
New Orleans BioInnovation Center | New Orleans, Louisiana
In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, Louisiana created the New Orleans Biodistrict, a 1,500-acre (607 ha) economic development district intended to develop the city’s biosciences industry. A key piece of the district, the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, opened six years later on a former brownfield site on Canal Street. An incubator for a wide variety of emerging biotechnology companies, the 65,500-square-foot (6,000 sq m) building includes laboratories, offices, a conference center, break areas, and a café, all organized around a landscaped courtyard that, in the tradition of the city’s architecture, is visible to passersby.
In a hot, humid climate subject to heavy rainfall and flooding, the building incorporates a water feature that captures stormwater and filters it with a bioswale. Pervious concrete pavement in the parking lot helps reduce runoff. Louvers mitigate solar heat gain while allowing natural light to penetrate the building, and occupants can control the airflow and temperature of each laboratory. Local firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple collaborated with Seattle-based NBBJ on the design.
Creating an office environment that reflects a business’ mission is tricky enough, but one that sparks productivity and innovation, too? File that under “a job well done.” See what happened when these designers helped three companies think outside the cubicle.
With the behemoth 1970s former data center to work with, the EDR design team brought the outdoors in. “The idea was to create energy and excitement by opening up the inside, bringing landscape into the middle of the building, and really creating an environment that connected all three floors,” director of design Steve Dumez says. Aside from the central atrium, the renovation incorporated an oak-shaped patio, billboard imagery, and playful bleachers for company-wide meetings (and the occasional LSU football fame screening). Employees appreciate the added natural light. As one staff member commented: “You can always get a glimpse of the outside no matter where you are.”
Many spors fans will tell you that stadiums, arenas, and ballparks can be magical shrines that capture the full range of human emotions. Catching a game at Fenway Park, Camden Yards, or Yankee Stadium isn’t just about runs and innings, it’s about family, friends, and community.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, locals saw the Saints’ return to the Superdome in September 2006 as a pivotal moment. At the kickoff of that football game, the stadium—and the city—seemed reborn. To this day the Superdome remains a symbol of the city’s resilience—especially because it had served as a temporary but dangerous holding center for people fleeing Katrina’s floodwaters.
We’re currently in the midst of a boom in stadium and arena construction. Cities are increasingly viewing them as anchors for larger developments, and new facilities or major upgrades are in the works in more than a dozen cities. Developers say today’s stadiums are designed to be high tech, environmentally conscious, and integrated with the community around them.
Architectural Record recently bestowed its second annual Good Design Is Good Business Lifetime Achievement Awards on one design firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), and on one patron of architecture, Hines. Of course, we are also continuing our open competition, now in its 16th year, to highlight companies and organizations that take advantage of design to further business strategies in ways that are innovative but appear effortless (think of BCJ’s Apple Stores). This year we celebrate such clarity of vision—on the part of the architects and their clients—with a dozen winning projects. From a power plant turned dance center (this page), to a new daylight-filled factory in Mexico, to a respectful renovation of an iconic 1950s bank in New York City, each sustainable scheme goes well beyond the bottom line and demonstrates the sweeping benefits of good design. - Linda Lentz
Highest Common Denominator: A center for nurturing bio-entrepreneurship in New Orleans is a prototype for nimble sustainability.
The New Orleans Bioinnovation Center (NOBIC) was a long time coming. From the moment the project began the planning phase in 2002, it was plagued by rising construction costs and fund-raising complexities. The owners had reclaimed a brownfield site in the burgeoning biotechnology district across from Tulane University Medical School on historic Canal Street and razed the existing structure. Then Hurricane Katrina nearly washed away the entire city. When New Orleans began to rebuild, NOBIC was back on track, helped by the state, which—like other states—had discovered the economic potential of attracting biotechnology incubators. The goal was to create a collaborative environment in which fledgling start-ups could grow into successful enterprises and spread the wealth.
Jazz is taken quite seriously in New Orleans. That’s why the addition of a music performance venue on the third floor of the Old US Mint last year was not undertaken lightly. A joint venture between the state and the Federal Interior Department, the new Jazz Theater is located just steps from New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street entertainment district, and is co-curated by Preservation Hall and the Louisiana State Museum.
The 4000-square-foot space is designed, like many new music venues, to be as flexible as possible: It can seat up to 120 movable chairs for concerts from a stage that can be positioned against any of three of the floor’s four walls, with input panels on each wall for microphone, video and data connections. The space can be used as an orientation theater as part of the rest of the 173-year-old building’s mission as a museum, with video shown on a 103-inch Panasonic TH-103PF12U plasma display hung on one of the long side walls.
As soon as Anurag Nema, founder of New York-based nemaworkshop, took in the location of the W New Orleans-French Quarter, the boutique property he was tasked with renovating on charming Charters Street, he was fueled by iconic images of the Big Easy. “We looked at Louis Armstrong first, and rituals of New Orleans - gaslights, fires, costumes, Mardi Gras,” he recalls.
Design narratives are hallmarks of W properties, and according to Aliya Khan, director of renovations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, this one is “based around ‘shadow and rhythm,’ which mixes the city’s mysterious underground culture with its long musical history.
Each of the 97 guestrooms, then, embraces one of the two long-time New Orleans pastimes: jazz of the dark art of tarot. In the former, a trumpet graphic wraps a built-out corner of the interior volume and a pillow nods to Louis Armstrong’s signature bow tie. In the latter, an expansive tarot card image is the centerpiece and the pillow is a spherical wheel of fortune. Copper-hued bathrooms extend the courtyard’s gas-lit fountain, as well as the city’s interplay between fire and water, into all rooms.
Crafting a functional, attractive home for a family is a tall order for any architect. And when that family is your own—including your wife and two children (ages nine and six)—the challenge only grows. That’s what New Orleans–based architect Steve Dumez, a partner of design studio Eskew+Dumez+ Ripple, learned when he embarked on a nine-month renovation of the family’s 3,800-square-foot, two-story home in the Big Easy. “We knew we wanted to modify the way the spaces related to one another and open things up more,” says Dumez of the house, built circa 1920 in the Uptown neighborhood. The family had fallen in love with the seamless living afforded them by their old home, a loft apartment with an open floor plan. “The loft had a casual feel that we wanted to replicate in the house,” he says.
Practice makes perfect. Let’s be clear: Ranking architecture firms is equal parts art and science. We refine our methodology every year. But the goal of the Architect 50 remains the same: to reward accomplishment according to the broadest possible criteria.
The list is designed to celebrate practices of all kinds—practices that are as adept with building technology as they are in business, that can win design awards and also give back to their communities. Indeed, for the first time, this year we included pro bono work and water modeling in the survey. Given the impact that the economy, natural disasters, and drought are having around the country, how firms stack up in those categories seems especially relevant.
The story behind the new Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center begins, as many sagas in New Orleans do, with water: when the levees failed after Hurricane Katrina, the original 1993 library found itself holding two feet of inundation. Even though the historic house connected to it, which served as a community center, wasn’t as badly flooded, its faulty foundation became even faultier. The neighborhood of Broadmoor faced an uncertain future, but its residents saw their library and community center as indispensable. “It was important to bring back the neutral space that rests at the heart of our neighborhood, where all sections of Broadmoor meet and touch,” says LaToya Cantrell, chairperson of the Broadmoor Improvement Association (BIA).
Seven years later, the new library, a rugged, unapologetically modern structure by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), and the restored community center, with a rain garden in front, serve as a testament to both community resolve and the city’s evolving relationship with water.
Design Like You Give a Damn  is the indispensable handbook for anyone committed to building a more sustainable future. Following the success of their first book, Architecture for Humanity brings readers the next edition, with more than 100 projects from around the world. Packed with practical and ingenious design solutions, this book addresses the need for basic shelter, housing, education, health care, clean water, and renewable energy. One-on-one interviews and provocative case studies demonstrate how innovative design is reimagining community and uplifting lives. From building-material innovations such as smog-eating concrete to innovative public policy that is repainting Brazil’s urban slums, Design Like You Give a Damn  serves as a how-to guide for anyone seeking to build change from the ground up.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple enjoys some of the best—and most unlikely—studio space in New Orleans. The firm established its studio on the 31st floor of an office building in 1999. Before that, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple occupied the third floor of a riverfront building on the edge of the French Quarter. The difference between a French Market walk-up and Class A office space is smaller than one might think, says Steve Dumez, FAIA. “We really connected to the street and the activity of the French Quarter. We felt the pulse of the city directly. We heard it. We could smell it,” he says. “We spent a long time looking for a corresponding environment in the French Quarter we could grow into. We’re immediately adjacent to the French Quarter. We’re right next door to all the same culture and restaurants. That was an important consideration.”
From the New Orleans Arena to the Cotton Mill, this pictorial compilation of contemporary architecture highlights eighty of the best projects completed during the past fifteen years. Entries provide the name of the architect or firm and the year that the establishment was created. In addition to offering the history of the building, detailed descriptions cover the unique architectural components. Sections cover office and commercial buildings, schools and university facilities, and dwellings.
Though the buildings vary in design—some posses an elegant, modern ambiance while others boast dramatic flair—each structure incorporates the key elements and familiar forms of stellar architecture. This collection features such establishments as the Port of New Orleans Office Building, Tchoupitoulas Studios, McWilliams Hall at Tulane University, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
The good times are rolling again in New Orleans, as the city embarks on a rash of long overdue hotel upgrades. It’s not that there’s a shortage of rooms in town—they total more than 30,000—but that, surprisingly, the stock has grown tired. The city has coasted on its dated mix of convention behemoths, small French Quarter inns, and luxury offerings since the mid1980s.
The $170 million reemergence of the celebrated Roosevelt Hotel under the Waldorf Astoria flag in 2009, however, signaled that tourism areas of the city had officially rebounded from Hurricane Katrina. Since then, the big chains have started upgrading, with Hilton New Orleans Riverside investing $20 million for new carpeting and window treatments in its 1,162 rooms; the Sheraton pumping $45 million into similar refurbishments; and the Marriott freshening its 36,000 square feet of meeting space. […]
Indeed, events pegged to arrive at the Superdome in the near future—the Final Four basketball tournaments in March, and the Super Bowl in 2013—are being credited with driving the citywide rush to reinvent. And, says architect Jack Sawyer of local firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, recent transplants such as himself have also contributed. “After the storm, there was this great influx of young people from elsewhere,” he observes. “Part of it was opportunity, part of it probably had a lot to do with a desire to rebrand things, to bring the city back to life.”
Sawyer served as a lead designer for Ste. Marie, a stylish restaurant in a new apartment building designed by the firm, just two blocks away from the Hyatt. Playing off the area’s industrial heritage, the restaurant sports a motif of wood pallets and a commissioned artwork that recreates a historic Sanborn map of the neighborhood during the late 1800s.
Sawyer’s firm is also the architects for the revamps of the city’s two W hotels. The French Quarter property, one of the brand’s first to open, is getting a facelift of its guestrooms and restaurant, courtesy of New Yorkbased Nema Workshop. Highlights include punchier colors and more whimsical touches such as silver circular armoires. Further into the future, the second W, located near the city’s convention center, is slated to be transformed into a Le Meridien, with interior design by Meyer Davis in New York. […]
Aesthetically, structurally and environmentally, wood endures as one of the world’s most significant construction materials. Its legacy as a traditional building material is now complemented by new technologies and innovative approaches, leading to an increased appreciation among contemporary architects and designers. Today’s wood buildings run the gamut, and perhaps most importantly, they are as sustainable as they come, as evidenced by so many of the projects in these pages.
This year’s awards book showcases leading architectural and structural wood uses from three key award programs: Wood Design & Building magazine’s North American Wood Design Awards, the Canadian Wood WORKS! Awards (including British Columbia, Ontario and the Prairies), and the U.S. WoodWorks Wood Design Awards (including California, North-Central U.S. and Southeast U.S.).
Six years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward is finally starting to look like a community again—thanks in large part to the ambitious work of Make It Right.
In December 2007, 150 life-sized fuchsia structures occupied the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, where traditional shotgunstyled homes once stood. The Pink Project, as it’s called, was a flashy art installation to help bring attention to Make It Right (MIR), the nonprofit started a few months earlier by actor Brad Pitt, architect William McDonough, and architecture firm Graft Lab, to build 150 safe, healthy, and welldesigned homes for the area’s forgotten residents. “Why pink? Because it screams the loudest,” said Pitt at the time. The overthe- top effort raised millions to kick-start the rebuilding effort. Four years later, the foundation is more than halfway to its goal with 80 LEED Platinum homes built.
Five years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, and flooded 80 percent of the city and virtually destroyed its public school system, it is heartening to see the new beginnings that are emerging in the wake of the devastation. One inspiring fresh start is the reconstruction of the L.B. Landry High School in a working-class neighborhood of New Orleans. Designed by New Orleans-based architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, the new school is one of five projects selected as part of the Louisiana Department of Education’s Recovery School District’s “Quick Start” program, which aimed to fast-forward the replacement of five damaged schools while the new comprehensive plan for the city’s school system was underway. Supported with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the brand new $54.8-million facility, which opened last August, not only promises to enhance the quality of education for the students, but also to improve the quality of life for the community.
When Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans in 2005, it impacted more than 120 schools in the Orleans Parish School District (OPSD). Already suffering from the abuse of time and neglect, L.B. Landry High School (Landry) was shuttered after the storm because of extensive rain and wind damage. Few expected it to reopen. But Landry has deep roots in Algiers, a residential neighborhood rich in local architecture across the Mississippi from the central business district. More than 70 years old, Landry was the first high school in the area to admit African-American students. So a dedicated cadre of alumni, community leaders, and newly energized city and state officials rallied to save it from the wrecker’s ball.
A first-of-its-kind book, equally representing the voices of architects and their clients, The Power of Pro Bono presents 40 pro bono design projects across the country. The clients include grassroots community organizations like the Homeless Prenatal Program of San Francisco, as well as national and international nonprofits, among them Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, KIPP Schools and Planned Parenthood. These public-interest projects were designed by a range of award-winning practices, from SHoP Architects in New York and Studio Gang in Chicago, to young studios including Stephen Dalton Architects in Southern California and Hathorne Architects in Detroit, to some of the largest firms in the country, such as Gensler, HOK and Perkins + Will. Scores of private donors, local community foundations and companies, and material and service donations made these projects possible. So have some of the most progressive funders in the country, ranging from Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans to the Robin Hood Foundation in New York. Taken as a whole, the selected works represent six general categories: Arts, Civic, Community, Education, Health and Housing. This book is inspired and informed by the advocacy and design work of Public Architecture, a national nonprofit founded in 2002 by San Francisco-based architect John Peterson. The 1% program of Public Architecture challenges architecture and design firms nationwide to pledge a minimum of one percent of their time to pro bono service, leveraging in excess of $25 million in donated services annually.
Architectural firms re-imagine our future cities
What will our cities look like in 2030? That’s the question we posed to three well-known architecture firms. The results are stunning, and in many ways, revolutionary. From how we live, work, commute and play, each firm has taken a unique approach in the ways in which our cities will fundamentally change in the future.
Few American cities embody “place” quite like New Orleans, where European, African, and Caribbean traditions are blended in a kind of cultural jambalaya. The city’s architecture reflects this same multiculturalism, particularly in the French Quarter, which still bears the lasting imprint of Spanish rulers. Their insistence on masonry construction produced an explosion of Creole townhouses—buildings with thick, solid walls punctuated by breezeways leading to courtyards, fountains, and lush interior gardens.
These European antecedents of the old city were inspiration for lead design architect Steve Dumez, whose design for a new high-rise apartment tower at 930 Poydras Street draws on the building patterns of the city’s historic quarter—and their social implications. “New Orleans really does not have a tradition of urban, high-rise living,” says Dumez, design director at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple. “So we looked at the French Quarter to reinterpret the notion of a shared, semi-private domain for a small community.”
Last year, this magazine launched the Architect 50, our twist on a top firms ranking—one that recognizes ecological commitment and design quality as much as profitability when measuring the country’s very best A, AE, and AEC firms. And what a year we chose for the debut.
Esteemed firms—including, but not limited to, the global “alphabets”—had seen their revenues fall sharply and responded with layoffs. Capital was scarce; new projects were exceptionally tough to win, and pencils-down orders on projects in hand became all too common. Somehow, though, we were able to produce a robust ranking our first time out. It helped that firms were being assessed on their revenues from 2008, a year that a lot of firms started (at least) with a backlog.
One of North America’s most distinctive port cities, New Orleans is known around the world for its complex and vibrant culture—a place where Creole cuisine, folk art, jazz, brass bands, and a melánge of languages, influences, and people merge in a shared identity that transcends its diverse population. So, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it isn’t surprising that people from all over the globe rallied to support its on-going recovery. Among the many contributions to the city was Prospect.1 New Orleans, the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States. Its aim was to help redevelop the city as a cultural destination. And the biennial’s imaginative Welcome Center—designed by New Orleans-based Eskew+Dumex+Ripple as the starting point for the citywide exhibition—was in its own way a reflection of New Orleans’ international cultural heritage.
Based on the goals of “Urban Habitats,” a design competition held in 2005 by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Community Design Center for the redevelopment of a local trailer park, this book frames sixteen design opportunities for affordable, dense, compact, and sustainable housing. Case studies selected from the Urban Habitats proposals and contemporary work, by innovative designers such as Anderson Anderson, Koning Eizenberg, Office dA, Onion Flats, Zoka Zola, Pyatok, and more.
Contemporary architecture in the U.S.A. today presents a fascinating interplay of a multitude of regionalisms and architectural traditions with current national and international trends. Accordingly, Collection: U.S. Architecture presents projects by smaller offices with a regional focus, as well as by globally operating stars.
From the portraits of a variety of construction projects, including high rises, museums, country estates, sports complexes, and sacral buildings, emerges a picture that presents the special and unique characteristics that distinguish the architecture between Pacific and Atlantic.
Architecture in Times of Need focuses on the redevelopment of New Orleans’ vibrant Lower Ninth Ward which was severely devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Invited by the Make It Right Foundation, formed by Brad Pitt and GRAFT, a group of high-profile and influential international architects set about developing affordable, green housing for the area, incorporating the latest in innovative and sustainable design. The projects by David Adjaye, GRAFT, MVRDV, and Shigeru Ban, among others, are shown in numerous photographs and renderings with sketches, building plans, and informative commentary by the architects. Along with an interview with Brad Pitt on his motivation to start the Make It Right Foundation to help in New Orleans’ reconstruction, the book also includes essays on the overall design process and describes the sustainable Cradle to Cradle approach, which seeks to maximize economic, ecological, and social value by following principles inspired by nature. Architecture in Times of Need also features the Pink Project, a unique effort that directly connects monetary donations to the assemblage of houses. It brings to fruition an idea based on real needs and real people, and in reaction to a natural disaster, the recurrence of which is all too possible.
Significant Interiors features award-winning interiors from the USA by notable architecture and design firms. The American Institute of Architects has selected each of the 55 projects based on a criteria of creativity and innovation, and presents them in a fresh, reader-friendly format. Winning projects are featured with detailed commentary, plans, captions and colour photographs. Projects include: International Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor, New York City, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Detroit Opera House, Detroit, Michigan, by Albert Kahn Associates, Inc.; Chicago Tribune Pressroom, Chicago, Illinois, by Perkins + Will and First Presbyterian Church of Encino, California, by Abramson Teiger Architects.
Thom Mayne of Morphosis in Los Angeles designed a house that would float if the city floods. James Timberlake of KieranTimberlake Associates in Philadelphia created a house with native vines climbing up the side walls to provide shade and coolness. Steven B. Bingler of Concordia in New Orleans envisioned a house with wide front steps ideal for a traditional crawfish boil.
Those are three of the designs by 13 architecture firms commissioned by the actor Brad Pitt to help rebuild New Orleans’s impoverished Lower Ninth Ward, one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The project, called Make It Right, calls for building 150 affordable, environmentally sound houses over the next two years. In a telephone interview from New Orleans, where he plans to present the designs today, Mr. Pitt said the residents of the neighborhood had been homeless long enough. “They’re coming up on their third Christmas,” he said.
A team of architects led by Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, Hargreaves Associates, TEN Arquitectos, and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, will unveil the final design in February for revitalizing a stretch of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The broad goal of the redesign is to reduce barriers that discourage people from enjoying the river and replace decaying sections with parks and public venues that will trigger private investment.
A team of architects led by Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, Hargreaves Associates, TEN Arquitectos, and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, will unveil the final design in February for revitalizing a stretch of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The broad goal of the redesign is to reduce barriers that discourage people from enjoying the river and replace decaying sections with parks and public venues that will trigger private investment.
Brad Pitt commissioned 14 busy architects to complete distinct designs in two months, told them to aim for a reusability standard so tough that only a handful of products meet it, and then demanded that all firms modify their plans however the client wants—if the client chooses their plans at all. A Hollywood brat ordering a new chateau? Not quite. This is how Pitt is helping rebuild a flood-ravaged New Orleans neighborhood with his “Make It Right” project, which last week unveiled 13 design models for replacing 150 houses in the Lower Ninth Ward destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
Two years after the worst natural disaster in American history, New Orleans is looking forward—to a boldly reimagined riverfront, a reenergized restaurant scene, and a new role in the national imagination. As the Big Easy continues its uneasy recovery, Peter Jon Lindberg asks, What is it like to be there now?
Some things are exactly how you remember them. The entangled aromas of sweet jasmine and olive trees, cigars and creosote, chicory and burnt sugar and river mud. The air so soft you’re inclined to reach for a spoon. The Garden District mansions, with their porch fans and cut-glass fleurs-de-lis. The candy floss cottages and shotgun houses of the Marigny, an improvisation in clapboard and pastel. And all over, a cityscape overcome by vegetation: drooping banana trees, 20-foot stands of bamboo, live-oak roots bursting through the sidewalks.
Sleek commercial interiors are bread-and-butter work for Steve Dumez, FAIA, who heads up design for Eskew+Dumez+Ripple in New Orleans. But he was a relative stranger to the subtleties of residential practice when he took on this project—the conversion of a century-old triangular warehouse in the Lower Garden District into a live/work building. Fortunately, he had understanding clients: his own immediate family.
In the two years since Hurricane Katrina, what has the rebuilding effort produced? No grand designs. No inspired vision for the future of New Orleans. There have been only a handful of earnest, grass-roots proposals to preserve what’s left of the historic fabric.
Amid this atmosphere of malaise, two recently announced projects for downtown New Orleans stand out as the first truly creative attempts to foster the city’s resurrection. The first, an extravagant proposal for a new New Orleans National Jazz Center and park by Morphosis, is the most significant work of architecture proposed in the city since the Superdome. The second, a six-mile-long park and mixed-use development along the Mississippi, designed by TEN Arquitectos, Hargreaves Associates and Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, would undo decades of misguided building on the riverfront.
The subject of architecture for religion continues to fascinate. Houses of God, Religious Architecture for a New Millennium by noted author and architect Michael J. Crosbie, demonstrates an inspiring array of gathering places for communal worship, collected from the USA and abroad.
These projects, illustrated with superb photography and detailed plans, demonstrate how architects and congregations can work together to build places that satisfy often complex cultural and personal needs. There are churches, synagogues and temples by some of the world’s leading architects, including Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Heinz Tesar, Gould Evans, and many others.
Designing sacred spaces presents a serious challenge for designers, inevitably informed by a long history of influential precedents and the spiritual predilections of the congregation. While places of worship may not carry the same broad cultural significance in contemporary Western societies that they did in earlier times, they still resonate with deep meaning for congregants. “For many people, [building a new church] is almost as personal as, if not more personal than, building their own house,” believes Steve Dumez, a principal of Eskew + Dumez + Ripple, which designed a new church for the Roman Catholic parish of St. Martha in Harvey, Louisiana, a small town a few miles from New Orleans, where the firm is based.
Because of the communal nature of such a building, Dumez and his staff approached the project as an exercise in collaborative design, engaging the congregation in the decision-making process. The first step, required by the Archdiocese of New Orleans for any new construction, was a series of public presentations by a liturgical consultant, Deacon Ron Guidry, who was invited by the Archdiocese to give St. Martha’s parishioners insight into the relationship between the ritual practices of worship in Catholicism and church design. The architects then directed a series of meetings in which the parishioners, armed with these Guidry’s tips, shared their preferences. Out of 250 families, 100 participated in six workshops in which they discusses issues of site, program, and material selection, among others (see “Finding a Congregation’s Common Ground,” page 44). “It allowed us to both educate them about our process and be educated by them about their parish and how they wanted to worship,” says Dumez. [...]
The Kate and Laurance Eustis Chapel was commissioned by the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans to serve the spiritual needs of the hospital’s patients, families, and staff. The new 1,000sf chapel replaces an existing hospital chapel tucked away on a secondary hospital corridor and lacking both ceremonial presence and religious character.
The expansion of the Critical Care Unit opened a new area that allowed the hospital to resolve many of the deficiencies of the original chapel. We worked collaboratively with a focus group of Ochsner staff and local artisans toward a design that introduces more universal themes of healing and reconciliation. As an inter-denominational facility, the chapel could not rely on specific religious symbols or iconography to assert its claim as a sacred space. [...]
This small chapel is designed to serve the contemplative and spiritual needs of Ochsner Hospital’s patients, families, and staff. The chapel is interdenominational, designed to allow for flexible, non-permanent placement of specific religious iconography, as well as personal artifacts and mementos.
The architect developed a design that introduces universal themes of healing and reconciliation to engage visitors with the spiritual. The use of wood implies tactile warmth, with a woven wood “shroud” creating a protective shelter over the main seating area. Water is introduced in a manner that alludes to its healing, life-giving properties. The subtle use of light, scale, proportion, and materials enhances the feeling of sacredness.
At the entry vestibule, a dark wood floor gradually moves up from the main hospital corridor into the chapel. Upon entering the main space, visitors are enveloped by the woven wood ceiling, and are immediately attuned to the calming sound of water and the hollow sound of a raised wood floor below. The space is designed to accommodate both private meditation and group services. Dappled light filters through the ceiling shroud overhead, created of over 5,000 pieces, adding to the overall ambient luminosity of the space. The highly polished wood furnishings reflect the room’s glow, and through their grand scale create spatial divisions as well as provide for seating and kneeling. Two adjacent rooms are available for more private meditation. Each of these spaces is wrapped in a warm wood wainscot and is positioned to focus on a unique window element for reflection.
A follow-up to the highly successful XS: Big Ideas, Small Buildings, this book features contemporary solutions to two of today’s most challenging problems-how to conserve space and help save the environment. The design goals of the 40 houses included here are to build as small as possible, to harmonize with the site, to use natural heating and cooling techniques, and, above all, to combine aesthetic beauty with ecological sensitivity. The houses are striking in appearance, inexpensive to build, and totally functional, and will serve as inspiration for architects and potential owners.Designed by a variety of young international architects (among them Patkau, ShoP, Sean Godsel, and Klein Dytham) the projects featured here reveal an extraordinary degree of ingenuity within a tight, creative context or budget. As homeowners become more environmentally savvy and demand environmentally sound choices, a new generation of architects and builders is creating warm, inviting homes that cause only a fraction of the ecological impact of conventional building methods. The book is also a compelling manifesto that illustrates how ecological responsibility can reinvigorate contemporary architecture. Sustainability is not just good for the environment-it also propels architects toward new innovations and greater creativity