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Recovery and Mitigation Projects

ST. BENEDICT, LA

VergesRome Architects is assisting Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College (SJASC) with recovery efforts following the March 11, 2016 flooding of the Bogue Falaya River that inundated most buildings on the 1,200 acre campus with nearly two feet of water.

SJASC incurred major disruption and more than 30 buildings and structures were damaged, with total losses estimated to exceed $30 million. The event was declared a major disaster by FEMA-4263-DR-LA on 03-13-2016. SJASC is a non-profit applicant for FEMA Public Assistance (PA) and 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs (HMPGP) grants.

The design and procurement of temporary modular facilities was accomplished in 3 months, allowing the seminarians to continue their studies in the 2016-2017 school year.  The Flood Recovery Projects at Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College included a total of 9 different buildings.


NEW ORLEANS, LA

Energy Centre, built in the mid-1980’s, is one of New Orleans’ premier office towers, located on Poydras Avenue. This 41-story office tower suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, when the building racked, causing glazing in areas to pop out as well as resulting in the deformation of the window framing systems.

The entire tower was surveyed and a majority of the glazing systems required replacement to accommodate the current racking of the tower.

Floors 1-7 received new missile impact-resistant frames and glazing, while the entire ground level was enhanced by a design program to incorporating additional security measures and protection for future storms.

Completed in 2010, the complex $18.4 Million project required careful coordination with facility personnel and tenants, as the window retrofits required working from both the interior and the exterior.


LAKE CHARLES, LA

The team of Page + VergesRome Architects was chosen to restore the Health and Human Performance building at McNeese State University from damages from Hurricane Laura.  The 165,000 square foot building lost 75% of the roof during the storm.  Additionally, the building sustained substantial damage to exterior walls, losing major sections of the wall system.  The damage extended throughout the building and allowed water to infiltrate from all sides.  Within days of being selected for this project the Page +VRA team was onsite assessing the damage and putting together the restoration plans and specifications.  The first phase was to replace the roof to stop further damage.  The bid documents for the roof was put out to bid within 14 days of being selected for the project.  The bid package calls for the critical portions of the roof to be watertight within two weeks of starting the roof replacement. The University set a milestone of January 8, 2021 to welcome students back to the campus.  Page + VRA is working closely with McNeese State University administration to prioritize areas of the building that are needed for early January.  The project will be completed in phases starting with the roofing contract.  The first phase on the balance of the project will be completed in mid-January 2021 and the final completion of the restoration will be complete in August 2021.


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.


The John McDonogh School building is located at 2426 Esplanade Ave.  The main three-story, 92,000 SF school opened in the early 1900’s.  The solid masonry structure with decorative plaster trim began an extensive renovation in February of 2017.  The school is currently being renovated inside and out to serve as an Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Exterior renovations include a complete refurbishment of all exterior wood windows, tuckpointing of all mortar joints, installing new masonry ties to mitigate cracking of solid masonry walls, cleaning of masonry and installing a clear breathable water repellent.  All decorative plaster trim and cornices, including the plaster entrance façade, are being refurbished and painted.  The art glass windows at the front entrance are being refurbished to match the original art glass windows as closely as possible.

The ground floor was completely demolished and redesigned to create 14 Classrooms to accommodate Kindergarten through 3rd grade, as well as an Art Room, Offices and Conference Room.  Also located on the ground floor is a full service kitchen.

Original classroom configurations were kept where possible on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The 2nd floor also contains administrative offices and a 450-seat Auditorium that has been refurbished to restore the original coffered ceilings.  The 3rd floor provides Classrooms, Media Center, Science Lab, Music and Art Rooms. Finishes throughout the Main Building have been replaced.

The existing Gymnasium has been demolished and replaced with a new state-of-the-art 22,000 SF Gymnasium and will accommodate new locker rooms, a Maker Lab and Health Lab.  The project will be LEED-Certified.


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


The Allie Mae Williams Multi-Service Center is located at 2020 Jackson Avenue in Central City. The Complex is an important resource in a neighborhood with a long history of advocacy for disadvantaged individuals and groups. In addition to the designated programs of child care, senior citizen care, public health services and educational opportunity training, the Complex is a hub of political and social activity. It provides meeting spaces for community forums and district planning meetings, provides rental space for a privately run health clinic and also provides basic public health screenings.

The existing Senior Center and Edna Pilsbury Buildings received roof repairs and replacement of HVAC systems. Renovations to the Multi-Media Center and Daycare Administration Building will include a Head Start Nursery facility and a branch of the New Orleans Library. The renovated facility, positioned on the Jackson Avenue frontage, will present a welcoming image for the surrounding community, connecting visually to the existing buildings on the campus while reflecting the neighborhood’s vernacular 19th and early 20th century retail architecture.

Allie Mae Williams Multi-Service Center Before Renovations


NEW ORLEANS, LA

The Offices at Mid-City Market is an adaptive reuse of the former Loubat Building, originally built in the 1950’s, into an office retail complex.

The 56,568 square foot building consists of 36,274 of office space, 8,897 square feet of retail and 11,397 square feet of interior parking.  The project was successful in obtaining state and federal historic tax credits.  VergesRome Architects was the architect for the project and over 50% of the tenant spaces.  The Corporate office of Gallo Mechanical occupies 15,000 square feet of the space and includes offices, workstations and training facilities for the corporation.  The renovation of the base building was a $4,500,000.00 project.


The 25-acre campus of the LSU Dental School in New Orleans sustained severe flood and wind damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Eighteen buildings, over 500,000 SF, were completely shut down. Basements and first floors housing critical equipment, and first floor dental operatories were flooded. The extended loss of environmental controls exacerbated rampant mold growth extending beyond the height of the floodwaters, requiring thorough environmental testing and extensive remediation throughout the campus.

A multi-phase approach to restoring the Dental School facilities was adopted by the joint venture team of VergesRome Architects and Mathes Brierre Architects. The project management plan, incorporating intense strategic planning and coordination with FEMA, was critical due to the size and complexity of the Project and maintaining full occupancy of the upper floors of the buildings throughout construction. The team worked closely with FEMA, from initial storm damage assessments and Project Worksheet scope alignment, to emergency projects for occupancy within months of the storm, to analysis and design of mitigation method options and dry/wet floodproofing measures for all campus facilities.

A new, raised, two-story Annex Building of approximately 65,000 SF was designed to house operations that previously occupied the basements and first floors of the Administration, Physical Plant, and Clinic Buildings. Affected operations mitigated included Central Sterilization, shipping and receiving operations, public reception and dental care facilities, student teaching/training facilities, and housekeeping facilities. Other facilities destroyed by the flood event, including animal research and care facilities, were also mitigated as part of the $76,000,000 project.

Photos courtesy of Citadel Builders, LLC.