The Rendon Apartments
New Orleans
Best Project and Project of the Year Finalist

Owner: The Rendon Partners LLC
Lead Design Firm: Trapolin-Peer Architects
General Contractor: Ryan Gootee General Contractors
Structural Engineer: Robert Bouchon Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineer: IMC Consulting Engineers Inc.

The historic renovation of the abandoned McDonogh 31 school building into The Rendon Apartments, a 26-unit complex, was anything but out of the box. Attention to historic detail, deadlines and safety was critical to delivering the $6.3-million project.

Vacant since Hurricane Katrina, the aging school building had become an eyesore in the neighborhood. The structure, which dates back to circa 1904, was in an advanced state of deterioration with widespread termite damage, and the project team quickly learned to expect the unexpected. 

For example, while removing the floor coverings, the team discovered wide swaths of deteriorated subflooring and several floor joists that needed to be replaced. 

Preservation was top of mind throughout the project, and the structure incorporated various features of the former school. The contractor preserved walls between classrooms and corridors and maintained the wide, linear character of the hallways. The team also retained six of the chalkboard trims in the classrooms, including the chalk rail. 

Preservation work involved repairing hundreds of historic windows according to National Park Service guidelines and completely replicating two mosaic tile floors.

Safety was another concern as the site presented a significant fall risk for workers who had to repair mechanical components from atop a high-pitched roof. A third-party consultant performed twice monthly safety inspections.

Completing construction on time was essential, as the team faced a deadline of finishing the project by the end of the year in order to qualify for historic tax credits. The team successfully met that deadline.

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