New Orleans, Louisiana
Nathan Knutson, VJAA
2008 AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Projects
The Times Picayune:
New Orleans Magazine June 2007
Tulane’s enthusiastic green movement advocated a sustainable design approach for the Lavin-Bernick Center, or LBC: The existing student center building was stripped to its concrete frame (saving large amounts of landfill space and reducing material costs), expanded by one-third, and redesigned with a variety of environmentally efficient systems.
New Orleans’ hot, humid climate is tempered with strategies for expanding the building’s comfort zone via thermal zoning and technically innovative systems for variable shading, moving air, and radiant cooling. Balconies, canopies, and courtyards layer spaces to encourage movement of light, air—and people—in passive ways similar to regional vernacular buildings. The LBC’s façade is in fact inspired by New Orleans’ culture, climate, and history, with deep porches mediating between inside and out. A deep, modern gallery on the northeast merges building and quad, and a smaller, more protected “pocket park” on the southwest is adjacent to the bookstore. Large portions of the façade can be opened to the exterior to capture cross-breezes and the natural environment—with hi-tech mechanical systems monitoring the balance throughout. Program elements—a library, bookstore, various social areas, administrative and club offices, student services, and a large commons—are located relative to activity levels and needs for natural light and connections to the exterior.