Tulane University’s School of Social Work was relocated beyond the historic academic uptown campus where it had operated for the last 50 years. Now housed in the former Elks Building, a neo-classical structure built in 1917, the school occupies the third and fourth floors, offering nearly 20,000 sq ft of study, classroom and meeting spaces. The project also reworked the first-floor entrance to be ADA compliant.

The biggest challenge the team had to overcome was trying to retrofit an existing building that was built almost a century ago into a modern, energy-efficient educational facility. Teams installed modern finishes but aimed to retain the building’s historic character. The fast-tracked project was complete in five months despite having encountered several unforeseen existing building conditions.

Working toward LEED certification created many hurdles as well. One of the biggest was sourcing local materials. Drywall came from a local plant, the wood was harvested regionally and the demolition debris had to be separated by type and recycled at the local dump.

Construction on the first floor was difficult. The team built a completely new entrance with a ramp and stairs to meet ADA compliance. A 12-ft by 40-ft hole had to be sawcut, jackhammered and removed to complete the ramp. All of this took place less than 10 ft from a working day care center. Demolition and steel erection were coordinated down to the minute so as not to disturb the children. The project has earned LEED Gold certification from the USGBC.

Tulane School of Social Work

New Orleans

Key Players
The Administrators of Tulane Educational Fund
Lead Design Firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
General Contractor DonahueFavret Contractors Inc.
Structural Engineer Kyle Associates LLC
MEP Engineer Huseman & Associates
Mechanical Gallo Mechanical LLC