In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans architect Wayne Troyer, AIA, bounced between friends' houses in Alabama and Louisiana. All the while, he frantically awaited the latest news of his home city. “I e-mailed like crazy ... we were all trying to regain our sanity,” he recalls. When he finally made his way back to New Orleans and located his staff, they worked out of his house in the Lower Garden District for six months while their Warehouse District office underwent repairs [click here for more on Wayne Troyer Architects' studio space].
Throughout the chaotic post-storm period, up through today, the 16-year-old firm hasn't lacked for commissions. “We've been helping a lot of former clients with flood damage,” Troyer says. They've also designed a homeless recovery center in downtown New Orleans that will open this month, as well as several under-construction remodels and new houses.
He's particularly excited about two on-the-boards, multifamily projects in the 9th Ward's Bywater neighborhood, where he grew up. One, known as ICInola and developed by Shea Embry and Cam Mangham, is a four-building, mixed-use complex that adapts a former meat-packing plant into loft condominiums, townhomes, and ground-floor retail. Troyer and the developers kept the scale of the project low to blend in with the surrounding houses and industrial buildings. The environmentally conscious design also includes vegetated roofs and solar panels. The other project—Rice Mill Lofts for developer Sean Cummings—will contain 60 loft apartments and retail in an old rice factory next to the Mississippi River. “The river is a great asset,” Troyer says. “[Riverfront land] is on higher ground, so it can take a lot of density. The best way to rebuild is to maximize the areas that are most protected by the flood-control system.”
Troyer balances his taste for modern architecture with an admiration for New Orleans' older homes and buildings. He's brought his talent for sleek, contemporary interventions in historic structures to the city's nonprofit Preservation Resource Center (PRC), with which he's worked on many restoration and renovation projects. In addition to the PRC, Troyer has made a habit of pairing with top out-of-state firms. His studio has collaborated with Minneapolis' Vincent James Associates Architects and Atlanta's Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects on various projects at Tulane University, for example. Post-Katrina, he served on the Frederic Schwartz, FAIA-led neighborhood planning team for the Unified New Orleans Plan. And he feels local architects banded together after the storm in a way they hadn't before. “There's very much a sense of community,” he says. “Normally architects are very independent, but after the storm, people were helping firms get back on their feet.”
special report on rebuilding the gulf coast two years after katrina's devastation.
In this report, we've endeavored to illuminate the good and the bad, the true signs of hope and the harsh realities of its absence. Over and over, Gulf Coast architects emphasize that people around the country need to know what's really going on in this still-devastated but still-compelling area.
When 170-some New Urbanists convened the Mississippi Renewal Forum in Biloxi, Miss., to brainstorm the Gulf Coast reconstruction, they knew it would be a long row to hoe. Two years and dozens of charrettes later, work is still under way to rewrite planning codes that support thoughtful, mixed-use...
Design professionals agree that rebuilding in the Gulf Coast region is frustrating. Despite soaring construction costs and insurance premiums, elusive government funding, and inscrutable building codes—or perhaps because of them—the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity (AFH) launched the Biloxi...
After working in private practice for nine years, architect Michael A. Berk shifted gears in 1990 to become a professor and researcher. His new pursuit ultimately led him to explore affordable and ecologically based factory-built housing in the rural Southeast and Delta regions, where the dynamics...
When people talk about good things happening in downtown New Orleans, the name Marcel Wisznia, AIA, tends to come up. That's because this local architect/developer has completed one of the few projects built there since Hurricane Katrina—The Union Lofts, a mixed-use renovation in the Central...
Byron Mouton, AIA, never intended to stay in his hometown of New Orleans. He left for graduate school at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., then worked in Europe for a couple of years. On his way to San Francisco for a job interview in 1997, he stopped to see his family in the Crescent City and stayed...