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Superdome Restoration Design Contract Awarded

On Nov. 10, the Louisiana Architects Selection Board commissioned a team led by Baton Rouge’s 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.

John Pastier