On Nov. 10, the Louisiana Architects
Selection Board commissioned a team led by Baton Rouges
Trahan Architects to bring the Hurricane Katrina-damaged Superdome
back into operation. This is a critical step in restoring
a New Orleans economy that relies heavily on conventions and
tourism. The scope of the first phase of the work will be
to restore the Dome to its previous condition, and to explore
possible functional and amenity enhancements in a later phase.
Serving as consultants will be the New Orleans firms Billes
Architecture and Sizeler Architects, with Kansas City sports
architects Ellerbe Becket. Ellerbe has previous Superdome
experience and conducted the damage assessment on the building.
Trahan has recent sports facility experience and has won three
national AIA design awards in the past five years.
So far the Superdome's structure has been judged to be sound,
and the breached roof has been temporarily sealed. The team
has 120 days to assess the situation and draw up first-phase
recommendations, with repair work beginning within this period.
It will also explore methods of making the Superdome more
effective as a natural disaster evacuation shelter in the
future. It played this role several times before Katrina,
but was never formally designed for this purpose. The exterior
metal cladding of the opaque monolith is damaged in places,
and Trey Trahan, AIA, principal of the lead firm, will be
exploring the possibility of opening up the exterior with
glass elements. Preliminary cost estimates for the restoration
range between $125 and $200 million.