VergesRome Architects | New Orleans Architectural Firm

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Drawing from Colonial Indo-China influences, yet rooted in the Louisiana vernacular, this new residence in Old Covington fuses traditional and contemporary influences to satisfy the diverse tastes of the professional client couple. The couple requested a modern, open plan within a traditional setting to accommodate frequent entertaining and large family gatherings, as well as being the hub of social activity for the clients’ son and his friends.

The orientation of discrete parts of the house – living areas, bedroom, guest room, attached master cottage – exhibits a centrifugal motion that allows programmatic flexibility while maintaining the formal notion of the whole. Careful attention was given to provide views of other parts of the house from any vantage point. The architect used standard building materials – architectural asphalt shingles and metal roofing, as well as a combination of board-and-batten with horizontal siding – all carefully articulated to present a harmonious balance of textures, scale, and materials.

VergeRome Architects’ use and strategic placement of “floating walls” provides separation of spaces, yet allows the floor plan and volume of space to remain open.  Natural lighting was a key factor in the clients’ program. The use of clerestory windows throughout the main body of the house provides a beautiful fusion of natural light during daylight hours. The clerestory openings allow light to diffuse through the Dining Room and Library and beyond the floating walls, thus providing low ambient illumination in these spaces during the day (natural lighting) and during the evening (artificial lighting).

Finally, in order to better serve the clients’ active lifestyles, both professionally and personally, and their commitment to exercise and physical fitness, a home office area, a library/study space and a home fitness area were intricately woven into the layout of the house.


The Tides at Orleans Marina is a luxury waterfront condominium development located on Pontchartrain Boulevard in New Orleans.  Four three-story quads, each containing four units, have private, covered parking spaces on the ground floor underneath the buildings.

The 2-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath units have an open floor plan with 1,750 sf of living space.  All units feature private balconies on the first and second floors, walls of windows and premium finishes throughout.  Private elevators bring residents directly to their first floor living room or second floor master bedrooms.  An outdoor amenity area features a relaxing pool and landscaped greenspace.

 


The Penthouses at Mid City Center is a 13,500 SF, third-story addition to the existing, fully-occupied Mid City Center building. Seven luxury rental apartments were created, with high-end finishes and balcony views of the city. Two existing stairs were extended and an elevator was added.

The property features a secure entry for residents, with private elevator access and a gated parking lot with reserved parking. There are five 2-bedroom units and two 1-bedroom units, ranging from 1,025 SF to 1,598 SF each.


VergesRome Architects was awarded two projects by the Plaquemines Parish School Board to provide faculty housing to replace housing destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The original housing, consisting primarily of single-family, slab on grade houses, was consolidated into multi-family housing units. In conformity with FEMA guidelines, all replacement units were required to be designed as elevated structures to mitigate future flooding concerns in this low-lying coastal area. Parking is accommodated on the Ground Level under the 17’ high elevation.

The faculty housing developments are located off-site but in general proximity to the Plaquemines Parish schools served. The largest of the projects, located at Buras, Louisiana, provides 32 faculty apartments ranging in size from one-bedroom to three-bedroom units. The Buras housing facility consists of eight buildings, totaling approximately 32,000 SF, with a 3,000 SF Housing Annex building. The raised units are interconnected by a system of covered walkways.

A second faculty housing facility,  designed for Port Sulphur, provides a total of seven units contained in one building.


VergesRome Architects, in joint venture with Bani Carville & Brown Architects of Baton Rouge, designed the new faculty and student housing complex at Southern University New Orleans, an important milestone in the university’s recovery and rebuilding process following Hurricane Katrina.

This state-of-the-art student housing facility was the first such facility in the history of the suburban New Orleans public university, and with a final construction cost of over $39 million, it was also the largest construction project in the 50-year history of SUNO. The project encompasses a total of 21 buildings:  19 three-story apartment buildings, a recreation/ activity building and a service building. The 700-bed housing complex is situated on the school’s 17-acre campus near the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and was designed to provide students with views of the lake and the New Orleans skyline.


In Design-Build alliance with Woodward Design+Build, VergesRome Architects designed an apartment complex in Mid-City, converting the former Gold Seal Creamery production plant building into 31 mixed-income loft apartments. The adaptive reuse infill project incorporated innovative green design features that aligned with many LEED for Homes guidelines, facilitating a CDBG grant, bonus depreciations, tax credits and abatements, all integral to the creative financing for the project.

The existing former creamery plant, built in 1954, consisted of an 18,000 sf 2-story blond brick production plant building lined on two sides by a 1-story, 11,000 sf “lean-to” warehouse building.
The conversion design retained the existing structures, transforming the ‘lean-to’ warehouse into additional apartments with 16’ ceiling heights. Existing exposed steel bar joists were retained to draw upon the character of the existing facility. Approximately 15’ of the “lean-to” roof, between the 2-story plant and new façade of the ‘lean-to’ apartments, was removed to create an interior courtyard allowing natural light into the apartments facing the courtyard.

Existing steel bar joists were left exposed over the courtyard, sealed with high performance paint for durability outdoors.

Transom windows were utilized over each door and window to maximize natural light and to emphasize the ceiling heights. Stained concrete apartment floors provided tenants with a low-maintenance, environmentally friendly, non-allergenic alternative to carpet.

Windows were replaced with missile-impact resistant, low-e windows that echoed the architectural style of the original glazing. The controlled-access parking lot was paved with high Solar Reflective Index (>60) concrete to reduce urban heat island effect.

Maximizing sustainable and green design features where feasible, the Gold Seal Lofts feature Energy Star and water-conserving appliances, and high-efficiency HVAC and hot-water systems. Photovoltaic panels provide solar energy to reduce energy dependency. Two contiguous vacant lots were planted to provide a community garden for the Gold Seal tenants, while the facility’s landscaping minimizes water use. Set within a walkable community with proximity to mass transit, the Gold Seal Loft conversion exemplifies how smart reuse of blighted facilities can benefit an entire neighborhood.


ST. BENEDICT, LA

VergesRome Architects was retained by Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College to assist with their Strategic Plan, looking ahead to the next 100 years for the monastery and seminary. VRA focused on campus facilities, both existing and previously planned, and site planning. Delineating and protecting the private cloistered areas of the Monastery and Seminary College was very important, as the campus also contains public areas such as the Abbey Church, Christian Life Center, Benet Hall Auditorium, and Rouquette Library.

Seminary buildings on the wooded campus are notable examples of the mid-century Regional Modernism style exemplified by the architect, New Orleans’ Lawrence and Saunders. The mission was to preserve the seminary buildings’ unique architectural character, make them more energy efficient and suited for contemporary use, and attract more seminary candidates through the availability of modern facilities with desired amenities.

New HVAC systems in all seminary buildings were a high priority. A new Central Plant Building housing the Chiller System was constructed as part of the $4.1 million Vianney Hall renovation to service five seminary buildings totaling 103,000 SF.

Vianney Hall, a 1960 dormitory used for 40 years as a storage building, underwent full renovation, returning to its originally intended use, completed February 2014. One of three adjacent mirror-image buildings that form three sides of a revitalized Quadrangle green space, Vianney Hall’s renovation is Phase One of the Campus Strategic Plan program that creates an academic nucleus on campus with a serene outdoor quad and separates cloistered portions of the campus from public and semi-public areas.

The 20,000 SF, two-story dormitory building is now a modern residence hall with 40 one-bedroom units, each with a private bath, two Dorm Deans’ suites, and common areas, including a Lobby on the first floor and Prayer Room on the second floor. Built-in, custom dorm room furnishings were designed by VRA.

2018 AIA Louisiana Award of Merit


This home in Boulder, Colorado was designed to reflect character of the Rockies and the client’s Louisiana roots, while retaining the studio built on the property by the previous owner, a film director.

After demolition of the original house at the front of the property, the rear studio became the main house, per Boulder Zoning ordinances requiring that any new structure to be connected via enclosed space. The design of an enclosed 85’ lap pool, connecting the studio to the new residence, resolved the requirement.

Spatial needs were four bedrooms, 4.5 baths, and open space for cooking, dining and leisurely gatherings, with other amenities for daily needs. The owner’s appreciation for stone and reclaimed lumber established the materials palette for the exterior and interior.

The clients wished for privacy from the front with no transparent views of interior spaces from the street; therefore expansive open glazing was not allowed. Rear transparency from interior to exterior was requisite to enjoy the beautiful landscape design at the rear of the property, with mature producing fruit trees, perennial and annuals plantings, evergreens and pathways. Mature shade trees were retained and complemented by the new residence’s orientation.

The rear film studio was converted into a guest house. The existing conference room was converted to a master bedroom, in which the owners resided during construction, and three guest rooms within the existing footprint of the studio garage / film storage. The existing studio had 25kw of solar panels, reactivated to serve the pool pavilion and new residence.

Photographer:  PJ van Schalkwyk