The AIA has named Eskew+Dumez+Ripple the 2014 winner of the Architecture Firm Award, the highest honor that the Institute awards a firm each year.
The firm has played a major role in shaping the New Orleans waterfront, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is currently implementing phase 1 of redeveloping a 6.2-mile stretch of the city's riverfront. The master plan for that effort, "Reinventing the Crescent: Riverfront Development Plan," won an AIA Honor Award for urban development in 2012.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple traces its beginnings to 1986, when Allen Eskew—a founding partner who died on Tuesday—launched Eskew, Vogt, Salvato & Filson. The firm evolved into Eskew+Dumez+Ripple under founding partners Eskew, Steve Dumez, FAIA, and Mark Ripple, AIA.
See the firm's profile in the Project Gallery.
For 930 Poydras, a 21-story residential tower in a city with few high-rises, the firm consolidated tenant amenities on the ninth floor, including a dramatic sky lobby that cantilevers off the building façade. The L-shaped tower embraces an eight-level parking structure, which serves as a deck for sunbathing tenants. The architects designed the ninth-floor common areas as a reference to the inner courtyards from the city's historic district.
Since the firm's early days, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has coupled modern architectural design with sensitivity to New Orleans's unique history and ecology. Back in 1984, Eskew worked as the studio director for the World's Fair in Louisiana, leading a team of architects who planned and designed work on the New Orleans waterfront. Twenty-one years later, after the Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the city tapped Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to master-plan the urban riverfront.
The firm, which had 22 employees when the storm struck, has since grown to 48 people—more than doubling since 2005. The group's Make It Right: L9 Prototype House is one example of the architects' response as designers to the ruin brought by the storm. But they have also served as important civic leaders, participating in a variety of initiatives, such as the Bring New Orleans Back Commission Urban Planning Committee, the Sustainable Restoration Plan for the Holy Cross/Lower 9th Ward neighborhood, the New Orleans AIA Sustainable Design Assessment Team, and the New Orleans Civic Center Planning Task Force.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is responsible for significant institutions across Louisiana, including the corporate headquarters for Lamar Advertising, the Louisiana State History Museum, and the Shaw Center for the Arts, all in Baton Rouge, La. The renovated Superdome (and its attendant Champions Square) and the Audubon Center for the Research of Endangered Species are two of the firm's signature New Orleans projects.
As the firm's partners explained to ARCHITECT last year, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is gearing up to play a major role in preparing for the city's tricentennial celebration in 2018—a party certain to be like no other.
"Part of what Katrina helped the city to do was hit a reset button and address some intransigent social ills," Dumez said at the time. "That was reflected in our failing schools and political institutional intransigence toward change. Those who chose to come back were significantly invested in the future city. The civic activism that emerged following the storm has been our greatest reward."
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is the 51st AIA Architecture Firm award winner. Previous winners include Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects in 2013, VJAA in 2012, and BNIM in 2011.