This new headquarters for a local philanthropic foundation heals a scar on an important public space. As an exercise in emulating the values of the nonprofit that calls it home, the building is transparent, welcoming, and expressed in a restrained form and vocabulary that respects its historic context. The building presents an unusually large face to the street in an effort to give a relatively small program area the scale and presence appropriate for a civic institution. The result is an exceptionally thin building with maximum street presence, plentiful natural daylight, and ground-level views through public spaces to a lush courtyard beyond.
The building is expressed as two linked masses that correspond to the programs within. A civic half - with a public lecture space and a learning lab to incubate non-profit organizations - is articulated by a series of cast stone and brick piers that populate the façade and provide shading for the southeast exposure on the Circle while imparting a strong civic presence. An egalitarian entry is achieved by a gently sloping loggia that curves from the corner of St. Charles Avenue toward a raised, sheltered entry. At the third level, above a double-height meeting room, is an outdoor gallery supported by cast stone piers with sweeping views over the city.
Water stored on site is used for irrigation and to recharge the groundwater, limiting the risk of street flooding, subsidence, and seasonal swell-shrink cycles in New Orleans’s weak clay soils. Designed in close collaboration with CARBO Landscape Architecture, the tiered rain gardens, under-terrace cisterns, an open demonstration cistern, permeable paving, and native plant materials all make up an integrated display of best practices in urban water management.