The first major hurdle to overcome was the egress. The building's load-bearing walls and location on a long corner site made it infeasible to add the necessary second means of egress. Drawing on our experience with challenging historic buildings, we designed an enhanced alternative life-safety strategy in collaboration with the New Orleans Board of Building Safety and Appeals (BBSA). Our plan offers added benefits for the owner and residents, with elevators opening directly into the full-floor units — thereby decreasing the need for hallways and increasing convenience (and rentable area).
- Terri Dreyer
- Ian Dreyer
- Kristine Kobila
The next challenge was adding a penthouse. The owner specifically requested a private rooftop addition for the fourth-floor unit, but it was essential to create it without disrupting the integrity of the building. We used 3D models and full-scale mockups to design the addition with precisely calculated setbacks that maximized buildable area and minimized views from the street.
Inside, the first two floors were completely reconfigured and restructured. We removed a non-compliant mezzanine to make room for a full second floor. Above, we designed the full-floor units to accentuate the building’s unique proportions, with hallways along a long brick interior wall, so living spaces receive ample natural light. New curving Venetian plaster walls soften the corridors on floors 2-3 while adding a warmth that complements the historic architecture. On the third floor, we preserved the building’s original inverted metal truss, making it a feature that lends an industrial character to the otherwise modern space.
We took great care to preserve the exterior, cleaning and replacing the rare historic brickwork as needed, using a stained Chicago Brick to match the building's rare pink and orange hues. We also worked closely with the HDLC, SHPO, and the storefront contractor to create a new storefront for the ground-floor commercial space that matched the existing opening, with new and improved lighting and signage.
Today, 700 Baronne Street is an exceptional 12,600 SF building that retains its historic character while meeting contemporary expectations for safety and style.