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Faculty members awarded grant to research water-management structures

Pictured: Faculty members Kentaro Tsubaki and Charles Jones with Master of Architecture student Riley Lacalli. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano

Tulane School of Architecture faculty members Kentaro Tsubaki and Charles Jones received a $100,000 grant from the PCI Foundation to develop a class-based research project investigating how precast concrete water-management structures can enhance landscapes and support resiliency in coastal cities.

The multiyear effort will focus on ways to create structures, such as levees and stormwater detention systems, which direct water while also encouraging interaction and appreciation for the substance.

The team hopes to use an architectural approach to challenge the perspective that water should be funneled out of sight and out of mind. Their research will explore opportunities for water-management infrastructure to be an accessible, useful and aesthetic community asset.

The grant will fund a paired design studio and fabrication class investigating this idea. Working around a water-related challenge, students will collectively design, fabricate and test scaled prototypes of precast concrete–based structures.

“We want to establish a strong link between a design education and research,” said Tsubaki, Favrot Associate Professor of Architecture and associate dean for academics. “This studio will create a significant research initiative within the school, combining our expertise in architectural design with the technical side of construction and the issue of water management.”

The precast method involves fabricating concrete in reusable molds housed in carefully controlled environments. This results in a more refined product with cost savings for large-scale projects.

Relationships with industry partners will ground the class learning and research in practical expertise. Precast concrete and allied industry organizations PCI Gulf South, Gate Precast Co., Lafarge Ductal and US Formliner have pledged support to the school’s efforts.

Tsubaki and Jones are working with graduate architecture students Riley Lacalli and Wei Xiao to develop the studio and fabrication course curriculum and plan to begin offering the classes in spring 2019. The team is also creating four precast concrete learning modules customized for core architecture classes.

“Our school served a vital role in community building in the post-Katrina era,” said Jones, an adjunct lecturer. “This partnership with the PCI Foundation will empower our students to also engage in one of our region’s most challenging environmental and cultural relationships — rethinking the way we live with water.”

Tulane School of Architecture projects win AIA New Orleans 2018 Design Awards

Three Tulane University School of Architecture projects, by the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design and URBANbuild program, were recognized Thursday at the AIA New Orleans 2018 Design Awards.

The Ozanam Inn Day Space and Big Class Writers’ Room, both Small Center design/build studio projects, were awarded the Divine Detail Award of Merit and Interior Architecture Award of Merit respectively. URBANbuild 12 received the Residential Honor Award.

The awards jury, led by Frank Harmon, FAIA, noted cohort of 19 winning projects as “refreshing and free of current clichés and mannerisms because they are rooted in the culture of their place.”

Click below to read more about each project.

Divine Detail Award of Merit: Ozanam Inn Day Space – Small Center

Interior Architecture Award of Merit: Big Class Writers' Room - Small Center

Residential Honor Award: URBANbuild 12

Studio founded by Tulane alumni celebrates 20th anniversary

Todd Erlandson and Sherry Hoffman

Photo: LJ Roxas

March Studio, founded by Tulane graduates Todd Erlandson (A ’87) and Sherry Hoffman (NC ’84), is celebrating 20 years of telling brand stories through architecture.

The husband and wife team formed the California-based studio in 1998, combining the principles of design and marketing to create “branded architecture with purpose.” Their process is grounded in listening and collaboration with the client to create environments that authentically reflect and meet the needs of an organization.

In addition to finding success in the design field with clients like HBO Films and Vice Media, Erlandson and Hoffman have remained active in the academic community. The pair served as visiting faculty at the Tulane University School of Architecture from 2004-05 and regularly return to the school to participate in design reviews. Hoffman is also currently a faculty member at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Erlandson sited their time teaching at Tulane as a highlight from the past 20 years in recent blog post. “It was a significant moment when we were asked to teach at Tulane University as visiting faculty for a year in 2004. It helped us refine our thinking about branded architecture through seminars and design studios. It also clarified the role of teaching within our office, which keeps us rigorous in pushing ourselves, finding the cutting edge and participating in innovative discussions happening in the academic world, then testing them in our practice.”

Learn more about March Studio here.

Professor John Klingman’s annual “Best New Architecture” list

House by Studio WTA

Photo: Jeffery Johnston

Favrot Professor of Architecture John P. Klingman’s annual round up of New Orleans’ best new architecture projects was featured in the March issue of New Orleans Magazine.

Read the article here.

Congratulations to the Tulane School of Architecture alumni who contributed to the highlighted projects:

  • Jose Alvarez (A ‘97)
  • Robert Baddour (A ‘10)
  • Robert Boyd (A ‘91)
  • Ray Croft (A ‘14)
  • David Demsey (A ‘07)
  • Cynthia Dubberley (A ‘97)
  • Trenton Gauthier (A ‘14)
  • Lauren Hickman (A ‘06)
  • Patrick Horigan (A ‘05)
  • Ross Karsen (A ‘06)
  • Alissa Kingsley (A ‘11)
  • Emile Lejeune (A ‘13)
  • Noah Marble (A '05)
  • Daniel McDonald (A ‘13)
  • Byron Mouton (A ‘89)
  • Jessica O’Dell (A *14)
  • Steve Ritten (A ‘07)
  • Alex Sirko (A ‘94)
  • Wayne Troyer (A ‘83)
  • Seth Welty (A ‘08)

Professor Marianne Desmarais appointed Taylor Faculty Fellow

The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking recently announced Tulane School of Architecture Professor of Practice Marianne Desmarais as a 2018 Taylor Faculty Fellow.

Faculty Fellows are Tulane professors who have developed a relationship with Taylor and expressed an interest in the center’s work. They represent a range of academic disciplines spanning the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences.

Read more on the appointment here.

Student perspective: Preceptorship program

Photo: Wiki Commons/William Warby

Tulane School of Architecture student Ethan Shaw is spending a year in New York City interning with Ennead Architects as school’s first preceptorship participant. This program allows students to spend a year working in a firm between their fourth and fifth years of study.

Shaw discusses his experience so far below.

Why did you decide to do a preceptorship?

There is a cycle that I think has been critical to my education of taking skills and concepts I learn at Tulane and putting them to use as a summer intern, and then taking the professional knowledge of practicing architecture and better understanding what I need to focus on as student the following year. After four years of school however, I began to start to feel that the balance of that cycle was off. The more I worked at an office the more meaningful returning to the academic portion becomes.

Where are you working? What are you doing there?

I am working at Ennead Architects and am currently on a project in Shanghai – most of my time is allocated to developing the building envelope which has included façade design studies, visualizations and technical drawings.

What has been your favorite part of the experience?

Working with an actual client, rather than a hypothetical proposal.

Did this help you clarify your career or educational goals?

Yes, I have learned a lot about what I enjoy doing, how to contribute to a large team, and what kinds of projects I do and don’t want to work on in the future. In terms of educational goals, I have a clear sense of the technology that is most helpful to learn that may not be taught through courses at school.

What is it like living in NYC?

I grew up here so it’s nice to be back, even if it is just for a year. Working in an office that has ongoing projects in Manhattan has added to the experience when we are able to tour the projects under construction.

For more information on preceptorship opportunities for the fall 2018 semester, contact Career Development Director Megan Weyland (

Alumna awarded national prize for ‘creative promise’

Photo: © The Vilcek Foundation

Jing Liu (A ’04) was selected as a winner of the 2018 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Architecture for her innovative interdisciplinary work and new approaches to urban housing. The prize is awarded by the Vilcek Foundation to immigrants who demonstrate “outstanding achievement during the early stages of their careers.”

Liu founded New York-based architecture and design firm SO-IL with partner Florian Idenburg in 2008. SO-IL is internationally recognized for exceptional creative work across the globe.

Liu also teaches architecture at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Read more on her work here.

Cordula Roser Gray appointed Taylor Center Social Entrepreneurship Professor

Tulane School of Architecture Professor of Practice Cordula Roser Gray, AIA was recently appointed the Beers Professorship II in Social Entrepreneurship and Cole Fellow with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.

Taylor Center social entrepreneurship professors represent a range of academic disciplines and support university-wide, interdisciplinary endeavors in social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

In this new role, Roser Gray plans to identify opportunities to connect academia with entrepreneurship and develop interdisciplinary concepts for urban place-making through citizen-focused prototyping and master planning.

More information on the appointment can be found here.

New faculty members: Spring 2018

Tulane School of Architecture welcomed seven new faculty members for the spring semester, including the 2017-18 Favrot Visiting Chair, five adjunct lecturers and an instructor.

These individuals will lead classes in design, architectural history/theory, technological systems and community development finance.

“The new adjunct faculty continue a tradition of bringing talented practitioners and scholars to the school to enrich and advance the curriculum,” said Dean Kenneth Schwartz. “We are delighted to have them join us.”

More information on Tulane School of Architecture faculty can be found here.


Richard Olcott, FAIA, FAAR - 2017-18 Favrot Visiting Chair - Design Partner, Ennead Architects - Options Studio

Daisy Dodge - Adjunct Lecturer - Union Studios - DSGN 1200

Cynthia Dubberley, AIA - Adjunct Lecturer - Senior Associate/Architect, Trapolin-Peer Architects - DSGN 2200

Jose Cotto - Adjunct Lecturer - Associate Director of Place + Design Education, Arts Council New Orleans - AHST 6420

Arianna King - Instructor - Doctoral Student, Tulane University City, Culture and Community program - AHST 3010/6610

Elizabeth McCormick - Adjunct Lecturer - Research Fellow, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple - ATCS 3030 - Building/Climate/Comfort

Sustainable Real Estate Development:

Matthew Perrenod - Adjunct Lecturer - Principal Owner, Mission Enterprise Strategies - SRED 6460

Klingman Option Studio Fall 2017 studies urban water Issues in relation to new design for New Orleans Congo Square/Armstrong Park

This semester’s studio extends the series considering water infrastructure and architecture; and its locus is a site of primary historic importance, centered on Congo Square/Louis Armstrong Park. The square, one of the most important in the city, was subsumed within Armstrong Park in the late nineteen sixties. Eight blocks of Treme’s historic building fabric were demolished, diminishing the character and the population of the neighborhood. The Park is widely acknowledged to be an urban failure, and the studio has undertaken its complete redesign. The goal is to design viable public space with particular attention to water as an element. Congo Square will again be identifiable as a figural space, as it was for most of its history. Buildings incorporating urban housing and mixed uses compatible with a twenty-first century sustainable vision of New Orleans are proposed for on this important site directly adjacent to the Vieux Carre.