St. Joseph Seminary

New Orleans, Louisiana

The renovation of the historic 4-story masonry student housing at Notre Dame Seminary.

The design team was tasked with rearranging the 36 student dormitories and 21 faculty dormitories into a more contemporary suite. The design solution created adjoining rooms with a shared bathroom. The rooms can be utilized individually or paired together to create a suite for faculty full-time residence. Several suites are set aside for visiting priests to stay while in town. In addition, the renovation included 5 classrooms, including one computer lab and practicum space. The existing chapel was relocated from a central rotunda to a more secluded cathedral-ceiling space on the top floor, with the rotunda turned into an easily-accessed student lounge. Finally, we reconfigured the ad-hoc office area to a deliberately designed, 31 office administrative suite.

The historic nature of the building and its close proximity to the seminary building meant the design team had to approach their work with sensitivity to the character of the original design and complement the existing materials and craftsmanship. To that end, the decision was made to refurbish the existing wood windows, salvage much of the existing interior masonry partitions, and create a custom wood baseboard detail that seamlessly integrates new power and data to each dorm room. In a similar way, we reconfigured the previously retrofitted air conditioning system to be able to raise the hallway ceiling almost back to its original height, while still accommodating the lighting, air conditioning, plumbing, and new sprinkler systems.