The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans has been slowly but surely getting the upgrade it deserves over the last decade-and-a-half since Hurricane Katrina. Considering the venue's 44-year history of hosting renowned sports teams, its brief stint as a vital emergency shelter, and its recent designation on the National Register of Historic Places, the 76,000-seat arena has lived a storied life. Structurally, the piece of mega-infrastructure by Curtis & Davis is stronger than ever, but the interior could use a contemporary facelift. This week, Trahan Architects revealed initial renderings of what will be a $450 million renovation of the beloved Superdome, set to be completed ahead of the Super Bowl LVIII in 2024. Nola.com reported that the New Orleans-based firm, which has been working on the space's restoration and renovation since the 2005 hurricane, will take the historic building and bring it into the 21st century of athletic entertainment. The studio will reorganize and improve back-of-house elements like bringing a giant commercial kitchen into the facility while dually enhancing front-facing amenities for spectators. The Superdome's modernist exterior will remain the same. Trahan Architects has already replaced the outer shell of the 9.7-acre, single-span roof as well as the 400,000-square-foot exterior metal skin of the building to make it look like the original architects' design. Using anodized aluminum panels, the studio upgraded the membrane so that it could be changed out piece-by-piece in the future in case of damage. Phase one of the new project, set to cost $100 million, will largely include behind-the-scenes work while phase two will totally transform the look and feel of the Superdome's interior. Elaina Berkowitz, an architectural designer on the Trahan team, said that although the redesign has been challenging to maneuver, improving the game-day experience for fans, while also "preserving the beauty and meaning of this classic structure" is a big deal for the firm. "It's a beautiful and iconic structure and is a wonderful representation of the strength of this fabulous community." One of the biggest changes of the upcoming renovation will center around the removal of the 80,000-square-foot ramp system (each is 50-feet-wide) that takes up the majority of space on the sidelines. Trahan Architects will build out a new series of vertical atriums with zigzagging escalators on two corners of the stadium before dismantling the old ramps, allowing fans easier circulation upon entering the Superdome and a closer view of the field than ever before. In addition, the design team will integrate a diverse array of experiences for spectators to tap into. Field-level boxes on the end zones will be embedded under the general seats, according to Nola, and standing-room-only areas will allow fans to explore the stadium instead of being confined to their ticketed seats throughout an event. The project announcement comes days after the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (a.k.a. the Superdome Commission) voted to approve the multi-million dollar makeover. Construction on phase one will begin in mid-to-late January and will be further conducted around the Saints’ season schedule, as well as other major New Orleans events.
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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2015 recipients of its Institute Honor Awards, which it describes as “the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design.” This year’s 23 recipients were selected from out of about 500 submissions and will be honored at the AIA’s upcoming National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. Here are the winners in the interior architecture category. Arent Fox; Washington, D.C. STUDIOS Architecture According to the AIA:
Key elements of this office building include a formal reception space with a physical and visual connection to the building lobby, a conference center, an auditorium with tiered seating, break-out areas for receptions, and slab openings on typical office floors for visual connection to other floors. The building has two primary street-facing sides and two sides that face an alley. To create parity between the two, the design places key elements on the alley side of the building to draw people from the front to the back for collaboration and support functions. Glass was used to shape offices and conference rooms and to blur the line between circulation and enclosed spaces.The Barbarian Group; New York City Clive Wilkinson Architects; Design Republic Partners Architects According to the AIA:
A 1,100-foot long table connecting as many as 175 employees—snaking up and down and through the 20,000-square-foot office space provides a digital marketing firm a medium for collaborating employees. To maintain surface continuity and facilitate movement through the space, the table arches up and over pathways, creating grotto-like spaces underneath for meetings, private work space, and storage. Dubbed the Superdesk, this table encourages connection and collaboration, makes conventional office furniture seem redundant, and challenges traditional ideas about what a modern office space should look and feel like.Beats By Dre; Culver City, California Bestor Architecture According to the AIA:
The Beats By Dre campus was designed to reflect the diverse and innovative work undertaken in the music and technological fields. The main building is carved by a, two-story lobby that forms an axis and two courtyards to orient the work spaces. Courtyards connect to the varied working environments and include offices, open workstations, flexible work zones, and interactive conference rooms. The office plan encourages interaction and contact across departments by establishing a variety of calculated environments that exist within the larger workspace: peaceful, activated, elegant or minimal.Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Museum Store; Bentonville, Arkansas Marlon Blackwell Architect According to the AIA:
The work of a local Arkansas basket maker, Leon Niehues, known for his sculpturally ribbed baskets made from young white oak trees from the Ozarks, provided the design inspiration for the museum store, located at the heart of the Moshe Safdie, FAIA, designed museum (2011) in Bentonville, Arkansas. A series of 224 parallel ribs, made of locally harvested cherry plywood, were digitally fabricated directly from the firm’s Building Information Modeling delivery process. Beginning at the top of the exterior glass wall, the ribs extend across the ceiling and down the long rear wall of the store.Illinois State Capitol West Wing Restoration; Springfield, Illinois Vinci Hamp Architects According to the AIA:
The West Wing of the Illinois State Capitol is the second phase of a comprehensive renovation program of this 293,000-square-foot National Historic Landmark. Designed by French émigré architect Alfred Piquenard between 1868 and 1888, the Capitol represents the apogee of Second Empire design in Illinois. Over the years inappropriate changes were made through insensitive modifications and fires. The project mandate was to restore the exuberant architecture of the West Wing’s four floors and basement, while simultaneously making necessary life safety, accessibility, security and energy efficient mechanical, electrical, & plumbing system upgrades.Louisiana State Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum; Natchitoches, Louisiana Trahan Architects According to the AIA:
The Louisiana State Museum merges historical and sports collections, elevating the experience for both. Set in the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase on the banks of the Cane River Lake, the quiet yet innovative design reinterprets the geometry of the nearby plantation houses and the topography of the riverfront; between past and future. Spaces flow together to accommodate exhibits, education, event and support functions. The hand-folded copper container contrasts with the digitally carved cast-stone entry and foyer within, highlighting the dialogue between the manmade and the natural.National September 11 Memorial Museum; New York City Davis Brody Bond According to the AIA:
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is built upon the foundations of the Twin Towers, 70 feet below street level. Visitors reach the museum via a gently sloped descent, a journey providing time and space for reflection and remembrance. Iconic features of the site, such as the surviving Slurry Wall, are progressively revealed. This quiet procession allows visitors to connect to their own memories of 9/11 as part of the experience. Located at the site of the event, the museum provides an opportunity to link the act of memorialization with the stories, artifacts and history of that day.Newport Beach Civic Center and Park; Newport Beach, California Bohlin Cywinski Jackson According to the AIA:
The Newport Beach Civic Center and Park creates a center for civic life in this Southern California beachside community. Nestled within a new 17-acre park, the City Hall is designed for clarity and openness. A long, thin building supporting a rhythmic, wave-shaped roof provides a light and airy interior, complemented by connections to outdoor program elements, a maritime palette, and commanding views of the Pacific Ocean. The project’s form and expression are generated by place and sustainability, as well as the City’s democratic values of transparency and collaboration.
Cast stone and steel become the medium for collaboration at Trahan Architects’ newest project.Trahan Architects’ Louisiana State Sports Hall Of Fame and Regional History Museum was designed with northern Louisiana’s geography in mind. Located in Natchitoches, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, the 28,000-square-foot building overlooks Cane River Lake at the boundary of the Red River Valley. While the museum’s exterior will be clad in a skin of cypress planks, a nod to the area’s timber-rich building stock, the interior spaces will be formed by a skin of more than 1,000 cast stone panels resembling land shaped by eons of moving water. As the panels begin to be installed, AN went behind the scenes to learn how the project is taking shape. Creating the building has been a largely collaborative effort. Texas-based Advanced Cast Stone will fabricate the stone panels, but the team involved in realizing the design also includes specialty steel consultant David Kufferman, steel geometry and detailing consultant Method Design, and Case, the firm providing the project’s fabrication modeling, BIM management, and technology consultation. Using Trahan’s 3-D documents, Case developed a set of customized automation procedures to create a final 3-D model with all of the stone panels, each with its own geometry. “If there’s not repetition with the panel typology, there can be repetition with the process of creating the files themselves and not necessarily the geometry,” said Case partner Ruben Suare. The firm’s software-agnostic approach allowed them to build the proper interface with a range of tools across ten different software packages. These models were used for structural analysis and coordination of all building systems, as well as for outputting shop tickets for use during fabrication. “This is an ideal situation for us because we are managing all 3-D information across the process,” said Case partner Federico Negro. They also created a clash-detection matrix to show where thickened panels would conflict with the project’s structural steel framework, to which the panels will be attached with embedded connections. Method Design served as a consultant to the engineer and stone fabricator to resolve these issues. “We basically had to develop tools to manage the tools,” said Method partner Reese Campbell, who previously worked with Negro at SHoP Architects. In all, Method designed 30 connection types for 1,150 panels, each with between 6 and 15 connections (each panel may attach with three to four connection types). Installation of the cast stone skin has begun and is scheduled for completion in the spring of next year, with an anticipated museum opening in the summer. Panels range in dimension from 2 by 2 feet to more than 15 feet square—the largest piece, to be installed on the atrium’s second floor, will weigh nearly 3 tons. Because panels are stacked in an offset-brick pattern, they must be installed in a specific order. “Not only is the finish of the piece important, its alignment with its neighbors and the grouting is important,” said Negro. “It’s a piece of sculpture.”
Construction began last month in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on the Louisana State Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum. "What do sports and regional history have in common?" you might ask. Trahan Architects certainly had to ponder this question when figuring out an elegant way to combine the disparate program elements under one roof. In the end they took inspiration from Louisiana's geomorphology, basing their layout of interior spaces on "the fluid shapes of the braided corridors of river channels separated by interstitial masses of land." See exactly what is meant by this in the images after the jump.