The New Orleans Advocate
Owner: Avenue Gallery LLC
Lead Design Firm: Mayo Wallin/Dalton Architecture
General Contractor: Palmisano
Civil/Structural Engineer: Carubba Engineering
Electrical/Mechanical/Fire Protection Engineer: ADG New Orleans LLC
Originally designed as a car dealership in the late 1940s by noted modernist design firm Curtis & Davis, the former Klein Motors showroom functioned as a cajun dance hall before being purchased by a New Orleans investor who turned it into the new headquarters for his local newspaper, The Advocate.
Years of deferred maintenance had ruined the sleek facade and weakened the original masonry walls so much that the structural integrity of the building was endangered. To complicate matters further, the owner approached Palmisano after working with another contractor who went out of business during the first portion of the project.
Because the financial viability of the project depended on historic tax credit incentives, historical accuracy was the driving force behind the design. The design team spent weeks researching state and city archives for photographs and news articles on the structure. The architect and the contractor developed a cost-efficient plan to restore the front facade, which had been heavily modified.
Weatherproofing the multi-wythe masonry building was difficult because the surface had been unsealed for decades. Traditional vapor barriers couldn’t be used because they would have jeopardized the integrity of the mortar and, in time, weakened the load-bearing walls. After a comprehensive survey of the facade, crews meticulously tuck-pointed the bricks and applied elastomeric paint to problem areas on the walls to weatherproof the building.
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