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Tulane School of Architecture receives $2 million for global studios

The Tulane University School of Architecture has received a $2 million gift to establish the Saul A. Mintz Global Research Studios, a new program that will give students an opportunity to work internationally on critical global issues.

The gift from Jean Strauss Mintz, a 1955 graduate of Newcomb College, is in memory of her husband Saul Mintz, a native New Orleanian who graduated from the Tulane School of Architecture in 1953.

The gift establishes an endowed fund to be used for travel expenses, research and other expenses of faculty and students associated with international research through design studios, which will include teams of students and a faculty member who will work in a lab on innovative solutions, including traveling abroad to do field work.

“This gift advances magnificently the Tulane School of Architecture’s goal of becoming an international leader in design that enhances and enriches human life, especially in the world’s most challenged regions,” Tulane President Mike Fitts said.

The program is part of a network of upper level research studios that will address a relevant topic for several years in order to produce knowledge and expand the field of architecture in that particular area.

“The impact will be doubled,” said Iñaki Alday, dean of the Tulane School of Architecture. “On the one hand, the Global Research Studios will contribute to the solutions of critical problems and expand Tulane’s international networks. On the other, every year 42 students will have very intense international academic experience at the research level.”

One of the projects is titled the Yamuna River Project, The Rajasthan Cities, which is based on research Alday began prior to coming to Tulane, in partnership with University of Virginia Professor Pankaj Vir Gupta. Originally based in New Delhi, the program is expanding to the Rajasthan cities of Jaipur and Ajmer, which like most parts of South Asia, is dealing with issues of water scarcity, river and lake pollution, ground water depletion, infrastructure challenges and population growth. Other studios will deal with rapid growing cities in Africa, like the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, or social and architectural challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The multi-year research project will analyze and develop scenarios for transformation, incorporating building scale, public scape, landscape and urban growth strategies. It will use a multidisciplinary approach that includes socio-economics, urban infrastructures, ecologies and governance, with water as the overarching frame and major challenge for urban life.

“Every graduating student of the Tulane School of Architecture will have this international high-level exposure, which will help them to understand the cultural nuances of international practice and research and allow them to be effective when working in different countries,” Alday said. "As architectural practice evolves and becomes more and more global, this is an essential quality that our students need to possess.”

Mintz made the gift in collaboration with her children Carolyn Kaplan, a 1978 graduate of Newcomb College; Sally M. Mann, a 1984 graduate of Newcomb; and Morris F. Mintz, along with their spouses and the Mintz’s 10 grandchildren.

“I wanted to honor Saul in a manner that would reflect his life’s interests and passions,” Jean Mintz said. “He held Tulane and its stellar architecture program in high esteem throughout his lifetime and believed that Tulane always should be amongst the country’s most highly respected and innovative universities.”

She said the Global Research Studios is an “innovative and forward-looking program that compliments Saul’s desires to keep Tulane one step ahead.”

Until his death in 2012, Saul Mintz actively supported the School of Architecture, where he served on the Dean’s Advisory Council. He established a successful business in Monroe, Louisiana, where he and his wife raised their family and served the community through numerous civic organizations and endeavors. He and Jean Mintz were also instrumental in funding Tulane Hillel’s Goldie and Morris Mintz Center for Jewish Life, which is named for Saul Mintz’s parents.

Rudy Bruner Award winner has Tulane School of Architecture connections

The 2019 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Gold Medalist has been named, and several Tulane School of Architecture alumni and faculty were involved in the winning project: Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, Tennessee.

Architecture faculty Emilie Taylor Welty and Seth Welty designed the Crosstown's French Truck Memphis coffee bar, one of several food establishments in the building. Additionally, Tulane alumni Lee Askew III, FAIA, (Architecture '66) was the architect of the charter high school inside the building; and Tony Bologna, FAIA, (Architecture '64) was an instrumental force as one of five architects leading the concept and development for the overall project.

Completed in 2017, Crosstown Concourse is a $210 million rehabilitation project, transforming a historic Sears, Roebuck & Company distribution center into a mixed-use vertical village. The biggest adaptive reuse project in Tennessee and the largest LEED Platinum Certified historic adaptive reuse project in the world, the 16-acre development integrates housing, offices, restaurants, and retail along with nonprofit arts and culture, health and wellness, and educational organizations.

Once home to the city’s largest employer, the 1.5-million-square-foot structure was abandoned in 1993 and stood vacant for more than 20 years. In 2010, Crosstown Arts was founded as a nonprofit arts organization to create a vision for its redevelopment that would cultivate the city’s creative community through “an open and inclusive place designed to dissolve barriers to access.”

Designed by Memphis-based Looney Ricks Kiss in association with DIALOG (Vancouver) and Spatial Affairs Bureau (UK), among others, Crosstown Concourse is now home to 40 diverse tenants and 265 apartments housing over 400 residents.

Read the full announcement from Metropologis Magazine here.

Roser Gray data-powered installation on display in downtown New Orleans

VectorFlow, a site-specific installation by Tulane School of Architecture Professor of Practice Cordula Roser Gray, is on display in Duncan Plaza in downtown New Orleans this summer. The project was supported by a Tulane University Lavin-Bernick faculty grant, as well as the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.

VectorFlow is designed to redefine a new public node in the plaza and offer an attraction point within the open space of the park. Five canopies aggregated to create a cluster within the larger field are coded in red to attract citizens and visitors to make the intervention visible and recognizable from different points of arrival to the park. Etched metal surfaces inscribed within the circular canopies provide shade and light effects during the day. At night, lights are activated to dematerialize and transform the canopies into responsive nodes able to render the flow of occupation of the plaza throughout the day.

The intervention acts as a system able to constantly trigger and monitor the flow of pedestrians through the park at varying times of the day. A sensor-based system receives data input from pedestrian passing by or people inhabiting the space. Data triggered by motion sensors are translated into dynamic LED light display which in return through intensity, color, movement and information display influences how citizens occupy and interact with the park. Through this citizens are offered the opportunity for engagement, interaction and activation while being exposed to underlying urban life-defining systems that in return can initiate desire for change while enabling space to be dynamic. The contextual changes rendered by the lighting strategy become an active, real-time transformation to the physical space while offering a permanent public node for meeting and gathering.

View a video demo of the light effects, project renderings, and site plans here.

Faculty present at AIA National Convention

Tulane School of Architecture will be involved in several panels and sessions at the 2019 AIA National Conference, June 6-8th, in Las Vegas, NV. See below for the list of faculty and sessions:

Ann Yoachim - panel discussion - Conversations Between Cities: From Recovery to Resilience - Friday June 7th, 9:30-11 a.m. Summary: How can site-specific post-disaster recovery and resiliency projects inform long-term resiliency projects in other cities? Find out at this panel discussion, which will focus on successful case studies from New York City, New Orleans, and Houston.

Emilie Taylor Welty - session - Beyond the Building: Social Change Through Community Engagement (Intersections Symposium) - Saturday June 8th, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Summary: A shifting economic and climatic landscape has left many properties abandoned and neighborhoods neglected. Successful community projects spearheaded by architects can rally communities to rebuild and restore their cities and towns.

Emilie Taylor Welty - film panel - Blueprint for Better Film Series Student Impact Panel - Friday June 7th, 2-3:00 p.m.. Summary: Watch short films showcasing the work of community design studios at universities across the US and participate in a panel discussion about the impact students can have on the built environment.

More information, visit the AIA National Conference website here.

Foundation Awards Grant to Rework Waterfront in Argentinian City

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has approved a $75,000 grant to Tulane School of Architecture and The Water Institute of the Gulf to support their work in developing a plan to remake the waterfront in Quilmes, Argentina.

The Tulane School of Architecture team on the grant includes Dean Iñaki Alday, serving as principal investigator, and Associate Professor Margarita Jover, along with student research assistants, all of whom will work with scientists and engineers at The Water Institute.

Tulane’s School of Architecture and the Institute will provide the needed coastal science and urban repair advice that policymakers, scientists and designers in the Quilmes-Rio de la Plata region of Argentina need to reinvent their coastline. Tulane and The Water Institute will advise on the leading projects currently under consideration by Quilmes and its more than half-million inhabitants.

Quilmes wants to transform an area of slaughterhouses and heavy industries along the coast into communities that include a diverse mix of incomes. The new waterfront is envisioned to include affordable housing and public places, such as parks and plazas.

Scientists and land planners from Tulane and The Water Institute will review the current conditions and the impact of potential interventions to develop scenarios for the city and its residents to consider. These scenarios may include changes to existing land-use plans and working to develop a unified vision for the entire waterfront to achieve the long-term vibrancy of the city.

“This grant continues our belief that the best water science in the world is coming from Louisiana, and the solutions should be shared to benefit the thee billion people who live on shifting coasts around the world,” said John G. Davies, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. “The grant also supports the researchers and urbanists from Tulane and The Water Institute as they build their young partnership.”

The Foundation started the Institute to provide independent science for implementing the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. Now a stand-alone science institute, it has expanded its work around the planet, offering solutions to rising seas and vanishing wetlands in Fiji, Vietnam, Chile, with more recent collaborations with science organizations in Israel, Netherlands, France and Samoa.

Norman collaborates for Whitney Biennial 2019 installation

Assistant Professor Carrie Norman has collaborated with Kenyan-born, Chicago-based artist Brendan Fernandes for the sculptural installation “The Master and Form,” currently on display through Sept. 22 at the Whitney Museum of American Art for the Whitney Bienniel 2019.

This installation, created through Norman's practice Norman Kelly, explores the intersections of dance + sculpture + performance through devices that put dancers into specific positions and forms indicative of the technique of ballet.

“As a former dancer training in the ballet world, I’ve always been questioning my body, my sense of who I was in that world. Ballet is a very specific type of dance form and specific types of bodies are required to perform the gestures or to be 'technically successful' in that space. I think about race, class, gender through ballet, those things are very much set through Western hegemony narratives. Part of what I’m doing in this work is to be critical and to break down those binaries because we are in a space that we need to change that and dance needs that so much in its narrative, to think about things differently.” – artist Brendan Fernandes

Learn more about the installation at the Whitney Biennial 2019 here.

Ammar Eloueini's J-House featured in Architect Magazine

The work of Ammar Eloueini, Professor of Architecture at Tulane School of Architecture, is featured in the May 2019 issue of ARCHITECT magazine. J-House, designed and constructed through Eloueini's private practice AEDS I Ammar Eloueini Digit-all Studio in New Orleans. Below is an excerpt from the magazine piece, which features images of the interior and exterior, elevations, floor plans, as well as background inspiration and specs on the house.

What do you get when you cross a New Orleans shotgun house with a loft and lift the whole thing above the flood plain? If you have a powerful computer, a clever engineer, and happen to be as good an architect as Ammar Eloueini, AIA, the result could be the J-House: an elegantly twisted steel-and-wood structure that rises out of a standard lot to catch the breeze, offer views of its surroundings, and provide refuge from the potential of rising floodwaters.

For the full story and photos and plans of J-House, click here.

Professor Barron publishes new sketchbook on Tulane’s iconic architecture

Following the sketchbook model of his previous books, Tulane School of Architecture Professor Errol Barron recently published a reflection on the building styles, both historic and modern, throughout Tulane’s Uptown campus.

Although the book took two years to create and publish, it is a culmination of Barron’s decades spent on and around the campus. In particular, Barron taught an architecture class that tasked students with observing and drawing Tulane’s buildings.

“I used to walk students around and give them a sense that ideas don’t exist in isolation. We would connect buildings on campus with buildings that may have inspired them,” Barron said. “I would often draw with them.”

As noted in Barron’s foreword, the book is a personal, not comprehensive, reflection on the campus and its possible architectural inspirations. He used the 1984 book Tulane Places and interviews with former Tulane University Architect Collette Creppell to inform his notes and reflections on the architecture, but the vast majority of the book features Barron’s signature watercolor drawings. The size and layout of the book mimics the sketchbook style of his previous publications New Orleans Observed and Roma Osservata.

The Tulane book starts at the front of campus on St. Charles Avenue with its Romanesque Revival style, especially noticeable in Gibson Hall and Richardson Memorial Hall, and moves through four separate sections leading up to the edge of campus on Claiborne Avenue.

Additionally, the history of the Uptown campus prior to its function as a university is noted in the book’s preface, written by Richard Campanella, Associate Dean for Research at the Tulane School of Architecture and Senior Professor of Practice in Architecture and Geography.

The narrow, rectangular shape of the campus and its quads are a direct result of the land’s previous use as a plantation along the Mississippi River. French surveyors used the method of creating “long lots” to delineate land along the river, giving each plantation owner access to the river and its rich soil and elevated terrain. The administrators of Tulane acquired its sizeable section of from a large tract that once included what is now Audubon Park.

“Tulane students today live and learn within the walls of a wide variety of splendid structures built over the course of 125 years. They walk and bike within the geometry of a space directly traceable to the earliest yeas of New Orleans, 300 years ago,” Campanella writes. “The enriching experience created by this interplay of architecture and geography is beautifully captured in this volume by Errol Barron.”

Copies of the book are for sale at Octavia Books.


by John P. Klingman

photographed by Michael Mantese

Two nineteenth-century Uptown New Orleans neighborhoods with complex histories provide the locus for the NOAF 2019 Contemporary Home Tour. The venerable Lower Garden District was a fashionable place to settle in the early nineteenth century, boasting a unique layout that included Coliseum Square as a focal point. Meanwhile, across Magazine Street the Irish Channel developed as a working class neighborhood closely connected with the port activity along the Mississippi River. Following a period of decline in the late twentieth century, today both neighborhoods are thriving; the recent renovation of the Coliseum Square fountain is a noteworthy indication of neighborhood pride, and renovations and new houses are occurring on almost every block in the Irish Channel.

Among the new houses being built in these neighborhoods, the majority are reflective of nineteenth century New Orleans building types, particularly the townhouse and the camelback. There are also a number of contemporary designs; and these are the focus of our attention. One may be surprised to see contemporary design in neighborhoods that are under the jurisdiction of the city’s Historic District Landmarks Commission; however, this is consistent with the HDLC guidelines, that allow for a complementary relationship between old and new.

The most appropriate architecture reflects its time, its place and the cultural values of its builders. With respect to place, it is the elements of New Orleans architecture that are more fundamental than stylistic features. Beginning with the interaction between the building and the street; typically porches, balconies or galleries allow for neighborly connections. Second is the provision of shading in our semitropical climate, with vegetation and building components like deep overhangs, shutters and louvers. Third is establishing the scale of the building that is commensurate with that of the surroundings. Finally, there is the relationship between the building and its garden or courtyard, perhaps hinted at from the street. It is the careful attention to these elements that connects a contemporary design approach to New Orleans history.

A less commonly recognized advantage of contemporary design in the historic city concerns legibility. One can argue that the true value of a historic building is more easily recognized when set in contrast to a contemporary neighbor. Instead, we often attempt to show appreciation for the past with a twenty-first century recreation of a nineteenth century style. There is some uneasiness that arises from this approach however. The fine residential structures of the nineteenth century accommodated a lifestyle that is no longer the norm. For example, in earlier times kitchens were service spaces, sometimes not even located within the principal structure; today they often form a hub for family life and entertainment. Newer technologies like the automobile, air conditioning and rooftop solar power have changed the way people think about buildings. The labor-intensive handcraft available in the nineteenth century is less prevalent, and building materials have changed appreciably; New Orleans is a city built with wood, but cementitious siding has replaced old growth cypress. Synthetic stucco, a thin veneer, competes with true stucco, and slate roofs are prohibitively expensive. Often metal roofs are preferable to asphalt shingles.

New Orleans is something of an outlier with respect to embracing contemporary residential design. Of course, one thinks about Los Angeles or Miami as primary examples of the dominance of the Modern, but contemporary residential designs exist in historic cities like New York City and Philadelphia. Cities abroad also provide exciting examples: Montreal, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Dublin come immediately to mind. In Kyoto, the capital of Japan for a thousand years, contemporary houses sit alongside of ancient buildings.

The projects that are featured on the Home Tour provide a variety of approaches to contemporary design. However, they all expand the tradition of New Orleans residential architecture.

Click here to read the full story, including descriptions of each home, many of which were designed and developed by Tulane School of Architecture alumni.

Remembering Wayne J. Troyer, FAIA (TSA '83)

The Tulane School of Architecture community is saddened by the loss of Wayne Troyer, founder of Studio WTA and an accomplished architect. He was an alumnus (TSA '83), former adjunct lecturer, and frequent guest lecturer and guest critic at the school. Above is a photo of Wayne (far left) giving a tour of Mussafer Hall on Tulane's Uptown campus to a group of Tulane architecture students. Below is the remembrance written by his colleagues at Studio WTA.

On Friday, May 3rd, our founder, mentor, and friend, Wayne Troyer, FAIA, passed away after a two and a half year battle against pancreatic cancer. As the founder of Wayne Troyer Architects and, most recently, the Design Director of studioWTA, Wayne led the efforts of our team in creating some of the most distinctive and relevant built work in New Orleans. His tireless enthusiasm for the practice of architecture and love for his city have left an indelible mark on everyone whose lives he touched, and his compassionate, transformative design will continue to enrich lives years into the future.

Throughout his 36 year career, Wayne completed award-winning projects both large and small, for private and public clients, which have left their mark on New Orleans and our community. At Tulane University, Wayne created a dynamic vision for several projects including the recently-opened Mussafer Hall on Tulane’s historic front campus which stands as a beacon for students, staff, faculty and alumni. His architectural contributions are too numerous to list fully, but some of his most memorable work include the Rice Mill Lofts, Hotel Peter and Paul, The Pythian, Arthur Roger Gallery, The Julian, 511 Marigny, the St. Joseph Rebuild Center, 566 Emerald Street, and PJ’s Coffee at Tulane University. During his prolific career, Wayne also partnered with several nationally recognized architecture firms including VJAA on the sustainable renovation of the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, Scogin, Elam and Bray on the Willow Street Housing, and Wilson Butler Architects on the design and conceptual planning for St. Tammany Performing Arts Center. Earlier this year, Wayne’s renovation and addition to his personal residence received an Honor Award from the New Orleans AIA.

Wayne’s passion for Mid-Century Modern architecture, evident throughout his career, led to his heavy involvement in advocacy for the preservation of significant buildings throughout the New Orleans area such as Charity Hospital, Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, and many more. He counted lauded New Orleans architect Albert Ledner as one of his greatest friends and influences, playing an instrumental part in drafting Albert’s AIA Louisiana Medal of Honor submission [awarded in 2008]. His love and respect for Ledner shone in the spearheading of several current projects at studioWTA, including the renovations of Albert’s private residence and his Unitarian Church on Jefferson Avenue. Wayne was a founding member of the Louisiana Chapter of Docomomo US, and as a Board Member he brought his conviction and knowledge as invaluable strengths towards highlighting the importance of our built heritage.

Alongside his professional work with the studio, Wayne was active on civic and cultural commissions and boards, including the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Architectural Review Committee, the Preservation Resource Center, the New Orleans Film Society, and the Contemporary Arts Center.

Wayne’s legacy within our firm is one of guidance and mentorship; he believed strongly in the independence of the young designer, and created a nurturing environment where even the newest graduate could feel accomplishment and ownership of their work while participating in collaborative design as part of the studioWTA team. Whether we have been part of the studio for one year or fifteen, we all feel this loss profoundly, and share a collective desire to take the lessons Wayne imparted to us and continue to create inventive, contextual architecture that is responsive to its time and place, and which brings daily joy to its inhabitants.

Taken from the book of the same name by Pema Chödrön, Wayne often encouraged us to be “comfortable with uncertainty.” This has never rung truer for us than during this time. We take comfort and strength in our studio family and friends, and we thank you all for your support and love for Wayne through the years.

A memorial tribute has been planned for Sunday, June 9, 2019. Click here for information about the memorial.