Weiss/Manfredi - Tulane University Commons reconceives its pivotal site to become a center for campus life
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Tulane University Commons reconceives its pivotal site to become a center for campus life


Education  /  Completed

The Commons, designed for dining and extracurricular connections, reconceives its pivotal site to become a center for campus life. Due to initial narrow site boundaries, the building’s design originally required five floors, which would have created a disjointed dining experience. By expanding the footprint of the building to Newcomb Place, a street previously used for parking, the building met its needs in just three levels: levels one and two are reserved for dining with the second floor acting like a mezzanine, cultivating a connected dining experience between the two floors. The Commons’ extension to Newcomb Place creates a new campus front door at Freret Street, opening connections to the central quad and positioning The Commons as a new campus focal point.

Located at a critical intersection of Lavin-Bernick Quad and Newcomb Place, the Commons reconceives its pivotal site to become a center for campus life. The building takes full advantage of the campus’ abundant green space offering extensive views of campus and connection to an existing sequence of green spaces. The building is sited at three major intersections. The primary dining space occupies the corner at the intersection of Lavin-Bernick Quad and Newcomb Place. The other two prominent corners are home to the Newcomb Event Space and the Newcomb Library. The building’s interior and exterior material choices, the viridian glass, blue-green brick, and terrazzo, reflect the surrounding Louisiana flora.

The design for Tulane Commons required reimagining the uses of standard parts and materials to create a non-standard envelope that addresses hurricane requirements, sun control, and a strategic budget. The YKK curtain wall addresses New Orleans’ hurricane-prone climate. The building’s use of clear glass allows for expansive views of the surrounding campus while its reflective mirrored exterior, acid-etched stripes and ceramic fritted glass provide protection from the sun.

The Commons provides a gathering place for students, faculty and staff, to broaden the intellectual life of the university and build a sense of community. The three-story, 77,000-square-foot building is designed to enhance campus connectivity and enrich the pedestrian experience along Newcomb Place. The design leverages the building’s vertical adjacencies to catalyze connections between students, faculty, staff and community, and create a vibrant new 24/7 campus destination. The bi-level, interconnected dining hall is zoned to accommodate different scales and types of dining, with formal and informal meeting spaces. A central, dual-level open kitchen at the heart of the building serves a functional as well as pedagogical role, showcasing the experience of how food is prepared, served, and enjoyed. The building invites visual connections between indoor and outdoor spaces and presents an especially compelling opportunity for dining and special events. Levels one and two feature multiple dining options, with 1,100 seats, and supporting service spaces. Level three hosts the Newcomb College Institute, and includes classrooms, study spaces, offices, an event space, a library, archives, and an open-air courtyard. The Commons underscores that significant educational experiences occur outside the classroom: over meals, through lectures, and during simultaneous encounters and collaborations.

President Mike Fitts has spoken about Tulane Commons as a building that promotes Tulane as a “world-class” institution and transforms the undergraduate experience by creating a dynamic site for dining and extracurricular living. President Fitts and Newcomb Institute Executive Director Sally Kenney worked closely with the architects to design a new space that raises the Newcomb Institute’s profile on campus and reflects the university’s elevation in “post-Katrina times.”


 New Orleans
 Louisiana, USA
 Tulane University
 7154 mq
  44,000,000.00 $
 Weiss/Manfredi Architects
 Design Partners: Marion Weiss, FAIA, and Michael A. Manfredi, FAIA; Senior Project Manager: Clifton Balch, RA; Project Architects: Andrew Ruggles, RA; Darius Woo, AIA; Project Team: Tomoko Akiba, RA; David Maple, RA; Associate Architect: Waggonner & Ball Architects
 Broadmoor, LLC
 Structural Engineer: Severud Associates; MEP/FP: GVA Engineering; Curtain Wall: Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers; Food Service Consultant: Davella Studios; Acoustical / Audio-Visual Consultant: Threshold Acoustics; Lighting Designer: Tillotson Design Associates; Civil Engineer: Schrenk Endom & Flanagan, LLC; Landscape: Towers|Golde LLC; Code Consultant: Code Consultants, Inc.
 WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, Albert Večerka/Esto


WEISS/MANFREDI, Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, is a New York City-based multidisciplinary practice known for the dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape. Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, notable projects include the Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park, the Baker Museum renovation and expansion in Naples, Florida, the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center. Current projects include the Tampa Museum of Art expansion, the US Embassy in New Delhi, India, as well as the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum Master Plan in Los Angeles. Work by Weiss/Manfredi has been showcased at the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt, the National Building Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. The firm was recognized with the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices Award, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, and the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal.


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