By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – the sixth-largest Convention Center in the nation – is about to get a major facelift that will result in the largest ballroom in New Orleans to offer prime convention and meeting space. Construction is slated to begin this year and to be completed in December 2012.
The $50 million renovation project was designed by the architectural firms Manning Architects and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, in joint venture with LMN Architects. Hall A will be reconfigured to include a 60,300-square-foot, column-free ballroom. Several other enhancements have been planned for the state-of-the-art facility, including the addition of a 25,400-square-foot registration area; a 10,500-square-foot entry lobby; a 5,700-square-foot executive lounge; a 4,660-square-foot junior ballroom; a 3,420-square-foot outdoor terrace overlooking Convention Center Boulevard; and a 980-square-foot indoor balcony, according to New Orleans City Business.
The 27-year old center went through $93 million in renovations over the past five years, including a complete makeover of the interior lobbies, a repainted exterior, lobby furniture, digital signage and key card entry at meeting rooms, as well as a fully redundant 1-GIG Internet backbone, according to press releases.
In other news, airport officials unveiled the brand-new Concourse D of Louis Armstrong International, a $27 million octagonal pod featuring six new gates, a glass pyramid-shaped central skylight and an airy aesthetic, according to a Times-Picayune story. The expansion was designed by Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects and is part of a much bigger, $300 million project meant to make the facility look more like a world-class airport. Recently completed improvements include the addition of a new firehouse, facade upgrades, flight information monitors and bathrooms.
And New Orleans City Business reports that Christopher Homes Inc., the housing agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, plans to break ground on several multi-housing projects throughout the metropolitan area targeted for seniors 62 years and older. The investment is expected to climb to $80 million and will generate approximately 560 apartments, including both new construction and renovated buildings.