In a twist of NOLA construction history, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, opened in 1975, is today as iconically New Orleans as the St. Louis Cathedral, built 181 years earlier. Curtis & Davis designed the “Flying Saucer” with a 440,000-sq ft dome that soars 273 ft above Poydras Avenue. Until 1992, it was the world’s largest fixed-dome structure.
At capacity, the Superdome seats 76,468 people, and all without a single internal support column. Instead, the 13 acres sheltered by the massive circular dome sit under a series of interconnected lamellar rings held solidly aloft on a steel frame.
Another elder construction icon in the lower Central Business District, the World Trade Center (WTC) has punctuated the NOLA skyline since its completion in 1967. Designed by Edward Durell Stone and originally the home of the International Trade Mart, the building became the world’s first WTC when International House and ITM merged in 1985.
In its heyday, “the Mart’s” local fame revolved around the Top of the Mart, a restaurant destination atop the 31-story tower which offered a 360-degree view of the city by completely rotating once every hour. The WTC is now slated for rebirth as a 245-room W Hotel with upper-floor rental residences.
In NOLA, where most things lie below sea level, building design has rarely dared to imagine a higher plane of residence. But now, the Flying Saucer floating on upper Poydras has a new anchor–the 21-story vertical neighborhood at 930 Poydras.
Architecturally and functionally, this new construction literally lifts up traditional city notions of garden-level life, replanting them on upper floors. Like an old window balcony, its spacious sky lounge cantilevers off the façade to offer a very modern look on the CBD. The building’s innovative approaches to modern residence in the historic, mixed-use CBD garnered local firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple the 2014 American Institute of Architect’s Architecture Firm award, just days after the firm announced the untimely death of its founding partner, Allen Eskew.