d o c o m o m o l o u i s i a n a is a regional chapter of an international committee dedicated to the

documentation and conservation of the buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

AIA Building tour :: Mahalia Jackson Center

The McDonogh 36 Elementary School / renamed Mahalia Jackson Elementary (Charles Cobert and Sol Rosenthal, 1954) is the sole survivor of the the thirty modern public schools built in New Orleans in the 1950s.

The school was renovated by architect John C. Williams for a non-profit foundation and re-opened in 2010 as the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood Family Learning Center. During renovation, the facility was stripped bare to the concrete and steel structure, shedding years of unsympathetic alterations and redundant mechanical systems. The form is a fusion of a ‘finger plan’ school with a double galleried plantation house. Mature live oaks inhabit the courtyards between the wings.

The renovation includes walls of operable windows and maintains the open air circulation gallery. The new program is brilliant and the renovation reminds us how modern school facilities could be retrofitted to serve the community in new ways if only given the chance.

AIA New Orleans is hosting a FREE tour of the Mahalia Jackson Center on Thursday, July 21. Please visit the AIA website to register.

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