The McDonnel Group recently broke ground on a $22.6 million expansion of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. The project will transform a historic warehouse into a 65,000-square-foot modern teaching facility complete with classrooms, labs and a kitchen.

Courtesy of The McDonnel Group
A rendering of the $22.6 million expansion of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

The project design-build team is being led by The McDonnel Group, with John C. Williams Architects as the lead designer. McDonnel Group President Allan McDonnel says the interior of the warehouse will be totally retrofitted and resigned to accommodate the new facilities.

The first floor is currently at several different elevations and will need to be leveled, says McDonnel. Portions of the floor will then be removed to accommodate columns to support 20,000 sq-ft of space on the second floor. The contractor will also install a new roof along with a new exterior skin consisting of curtain walls, glass openings, plaster and architectural metal panels.

As historical tax credits are being used to partially finance the project, the contractor must reuse or leave as many existing features in place as possible. The original wooden roof trusses will be reinforced but remain exposed.

“A lot of those [historic] elements will remain and it will be an eclectic space that holds true to NOCCA's character. We are obligated to maintain and leave exposed as much of the existing structure as possible,” says McDonnel.

When complete, the NOCCA Forum will house labs, kitchens and classrooms serving up to 700 students from across the region and state. The facility will also house a public art gallery and cafe where the community can experience the school's creative spirit.

The project is on schedule to be completed by September 2014.