The Historic New Orleans Collection is a renowned institution dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The Collection’s physical facilities include multiple historic buildings on two campuses in the Vieux Carré that serve its museum, research, and publishing functions. Waggonner & Ball's renovation expands the facilities of The Collection, faithfully restoring original structures, including their original colors, and carefully inserting a contemporary exhibition wing. Together, the restoration and addition double The Collection's exhibition facilities, providing a permanent French Quarter history exhibit in the old building and a series of large-format art galleries in the addition. The firm's integration of old and new extended throughout the details, including the design of all gallery furniture, and to light monitors and mechanical units on the roof, as all exterior surfaces fell under the jurisdiction of Vieux Carre Commission architectural review.
The Seignouret-Brulatour House, which anchors the campus on Royal Street, dates to 1816 and boasts a storied history, having played host to wine importers, furniture makers, bohemian artists, and the city’s first television station. Brulatour Court, one of the French Quarter’s best-known courtyards, lies at the heart of the campus at the meeting of the old and the new. Carefully articulated to preserve the scale of the courtyard, the Tricentennial Wing quietly announces its presence while reflecting the historic space of the courtyard.
Respect for the historic fabric, bolstered by The Collection’s commitment to conservation, informed all aspects of design. Antique pine, lime plaster finishes, and Massachusetts granite were all reappropriated from the existing building into the new. The Tricentennial Wing received a double-layered facade to match existing eave heights, tucking a taller concrete wall system behind the outer glass facade. In the courtyard, a long-concealed well was returned to prominence with a walkable glass cover, a reminder of the city’s high water table and connection to the Mississippi River.
The Tricentennial Wing, carefully inserted into the center of the urban block, allows The Collection to accommodate large format traveling exhibits. Galleries were placed on the first and third floors, accomodating a low second floor ceiling height matched to the existing building's entresol offices. Echoing 19th century skylights in the old building, clerestory windows were designed into the third floor of the new wing.
The project anticipates and is awaiting LEED Silver certification.