NANO was selected to renovate the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) Engineering Building located on Claiborne Avenue. Built in 1984, with an addition done in 1994, it currently houses all of the testing laboratories, engineering departments, emergency operations, executive and administrative offices, a 500-person capacity auditorium, and archival large format storage of all the plans for the City of New Orleans’ sewerage and water system.
Through an in-depth programming phase and analysis of the site, NANO has established a new centralized lobby that eases access, enhances security, and enables a new layout that reinforces the organizational requirements. While the current facility was ringed by closed offices, NANO carved out exterior skin between the existing structure to provide a more cohesive response to the issue of natural light, balanced spaces and intercommunication for the engineers, while allocating for future departmental growth.
Substantial area was recaptured by the fundamental design change of a central lobby, as well as condensing hardscape walls and the introduction of efficient, high capacity storage areas. In addition, all MEP services are moving to the roof to provide public exterior space for clients and employees with a direct connection to nature. A redistribution of the interior spaces allowed for better community and meeting spaces for public interaction and press announcements. Additionally, all base building services were brought up to current life safety codes.
The project was phased for construction. This provided integrated solutions for MEP and structural modifications as well as the full service laboratory functions to operate 24/7.
The intensive programming component for this project, inclusive of questionnaires, revealed several exceptional key points. First is the need to establish a public entrance from the parking lot. The second is the desire and need for natural light for the majority of the employees. Third is the need for more community gathering spaces for employees and public users that visit. Finally, the need for a better internal organization that better facilitates inter-departmental communications.
The result will be a 21st century renovation that will answer the needs of the building’s occupants through materiality, light, and equal distribution of spaces.