Rice Mill Lofts

522 Montegut St.

New Orleans, Louisiana

2011
Adaptive reuse of a derelict, five-story masonry warehouse into 20,000 sf of ground floor commercial space and sixty residential lofts, townhouses, and penthouses, as well as an expansive roof deck.
Sean Cummings, ekistics, client
75,000 sf
$15,600,070 / $200 sf
Collaborators:

Wayne Troyer
Jessica Tippens
Chris Goad
LM Pagano
Julie Babin
Kenyon Zimmerman
Sergio Padilla
Toni DiMaggio

2014 Louisiana Landmarks Society Excellence in Historic Preservation Award

2012 AIA New Orleans Award of Merit

2011 Associated Builders and Contractors New Orleans/Bayou Chapter Excellence in Construction Award

2007 AIA New Orleans Award of Merit

Photography:

Chad Chenier

Neil Alexander

Project Type: Housing, Mixed Use

The Rice Mill Lofts are located on the edge of the Mississippi River, at the foot of still-industrial Press Street—where the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods of New Orleans meet. The project has served as a catalyst for revitalization in the area, celebrating the artistic and eclectic nature of a neighborhood that is alive and comfortable with the contrasts of art and industry—modern oil tankers and victorian paddlewheel boats, bustling locomotives and meandering bicycles, coffee shops and small factories. The building has become home to professionals and creatives of all sorts, and, interestingly, to a number of families whose children attend the nearby New Orleans Center for Creative Arts—a state-run arts conservatory for high school students.

Extensive structural repair to the 1892 brick-and-timber ruins was required before actual construction could begin, requiring many decisions to be made during what essentially became an archeological dig (hieroglyphic-like street art abounded that in the finished project is celebrated rather than whitewashed). Many discoveries (and unexpected challenges) led to opportunities, resulting in the sensitive insertion of new materials that allow the original form and structure to be read in every space of the project.

The residential spaces were all designed for open living, enhancing the original factory warehouse’s spatial experience. Many residences feature bedrooms that overlook the living area. New high-grade materials, finishes, and appliances contrast the rough-hewn original structure, including extensive, colorful graffiti throughout. All units feature sleek custom kitchen cabinetry designed to be seen almost as furniture, generous bathrooms, and subtle art lighting.

At street level, several two-story live/work lofts are incorporated as counterpoints to a large, corner restaurant space, with the intention that the building truly function as a mixed-use project on several scales. A garden behind the building features an intimate swimming pool.

The most dramatic feature of the project is a rooftop terrace with a 360-degree view of the entire city, the Mississippi, and a new riverfront park. From the terrace the viewer experiences layers of contrasts on a larger scale: unfolding all around are industry and art, work and play, history and potential, sunrise and sunset.