Emerald Street Residence
Emerald St., Lakeshore
New Orleans, Louisiana
Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture
2016 Louisiana Landmarks Society Excellence in Historic Preservation Award
2016 AIA New Orleans Merit Award
Originally published in Architectural Record in 1955
Originally designed by renowned New Orleans modernist architects Curtis and Davis, and built in 1953, the Emerald Street Residence was published in Architectural Record in 1955. After decades of neglect, a damaging renovation in the 1990s, and massive water damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the house required a full rehabilitation. This intervention restores key original design features that were previously destroyed while also fulfilling Curtis and Davis’ original planned intent for a master bedroom suite at the southwest corner of the house, with large outdoor patios connecting all main rooms.
A key design feature restored to the Emerald Street residence is a deep mono-pitch roof overhang over the south facade of the building, extending the year-round livable area out to its backyard patios. Restoring the overhang as a design element proved to be a very complicated task, as a renovation in the 1990s fully enclosed the original covered space, thereby moving the entire south facade of the house out into the backyard five feet. Re-incorporating the overhang required that a completely new roof be designed and built, with a new steel structural system carefully woven and concealed into the design of the house. The house is fully rehabilitated to high contemporary architectural standards in the spirit of Curtis and Davis’ pioneering embrace of the newest technologies and methods available at the time of their works. In this spirit, the south façade–water damaged beyond repair after Hurricane Katrina–was redesigned to be composed entirely of floor-to-ceiling 7’ x 9’ sliding glass panels floating independent from columns or supporting walls. Interiors–including a fully custom kitchen and built-in furniture throughout the residence–are fully contemporary with clean, minimalist detailing tending towards mid century modernism
Backyard patios were added to connect all major rooms of the residence below the rebuilt extended roof. These patios are partially divided for privacy by large walnut-clad wing walls, which are treated with the Weldtex process originally used to striate plywood in the 1950s. Originally used on plywood panels in the residence, the process was re-imagined here as an extra layer of texturing for the solid walnut siding. The patios connect directly to a combined salt water pool, hot tub and freshwater pond. The remainder of the backyard has been redesigned to include a private garden with outdoor shower and bath, as well as a cocktail fruit orchard.