The Lavin-Bernick Center for Student Life, Tulane University

New Orleans, Louisiana

A New Orleans university perseveres with sustainable design after Hurricane Katrina.

Fourteen months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the doors of the new Tulane University Lavin-Bernick Center for Student Life were opened. The project, an expansion of an 112,000-square-foot, two-story building, moved forward despite the aftermath of Katrina and a modest budget. The result is an ambitious sustainable structure.

The Lavin-Bernick Center for Student Life, Tulane University
Photo © Paul Crosby

Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----
Nathan Knutson, Vincent James, Jennifer Yoos
Photo courtesy VJAA
Left to right: Nathan Knutson, Vincent James, Jennifer Yoos

Centrally located along McAlister Drive, the major pedestrian and vehicular axis through Tulane University’s campus is a transformation of a rigidly compartmentalized and environmentally inefficient building, into an expanded and sustainable university center. The original concrete frame of the pre-existing building was reused, saving an estimated $8 million in construction costs, conserving resources, and helping reduce the amount of demolition debris sent to landfills. The new building connects and overlaps two important green spaces, the central quad, and a small park between the center and an adjacent sports arena.

Although the existing frame was preserved, the program of the former building was altered and enlarged. With an additional 36,000 square feet, the center now includes a public lounge and study spaces, full dining and catering services, an expanded bookstore, commercial services, multi-room conference facilities, a 300-seat auditorium, and student program offices.

Characteristic southern architectural features were incorporated in the design: Canopies, shutters, balconies, fans, and a porous envelope temper the effects of the New Orleans climate, promoting passive cooling when conditions permit. The building can also operate in relatively conventional cooling mode. A building management system monitors indoor and outdoor climatic conditions, and optimizes a mixed-mode system of air-conditioning, radiant surfaces, and mechanical and natural ventilation.

Formal name of project: The Lavin-Bernick Center for Student Life, Tulane University

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Gross square footage: 150,000 sq.ft.

Total construction cost: $170 per square foot

Owner: Tulane University

400 First Avenue North, Suite 410
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55401
P: 612-872-6370
F: 612-872-6380


 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
----- Advertising -----
View all