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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
$715 Million Development

Hyatt-Superdome Area to Be Redeveloped Into New Hyatt Jazz District; Finished Site to Generate More Than 6,500 Permanent Jobs

Jazz heritage to fuel cultural revitalization and economic growth with creation of a world-class National Jazz Center as part of 20-acre park
Jazz Park to create a major urban oasis amidst medical center, business, city buildings and Superdome
Devastated Hyatt Regency New Orleans to reopen as world-class hotel and meeting site
Master Plan calls for new courts and city hall

NEW ORLEANS, May 30 - Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and the Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board today announced plans to create a 20-acre performance arts park that is to be anchored by a new National Jazz Center. The plans were created by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, and his firm, Morphosis, and also call for an outdoor auditorium, new city government buildings, a new civil courts building and major redevelopment of the Hyatt Regency site.

Laurence Geller, chief executive officer of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, the Hyatt Regency's owner, said the plans were created in consultation with an advisory board of leading New Orleans and international experts from fields including architecture and planning, the arts, economics and hospitality. Strategic Hotels & Resorts funded the Advisory Board's work.

Several buildings will be relocated to create a great lawn that stretches six city blocks, creating an open-air Jazz Park.

"The advisory board has created a bold plan that transforms the Hyatt area into a world-class urban area and destination. Rather than an under-utilized adjunct of disparate sports, hotel and city facilities, the Hyatt Jazz District will be a grand destination that provides the citizenry with an unmatched urban cultural experience," said Geller.

"We are especially grateful to both Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin for their vision and leadership. In fact, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Nagin met with us to discuss the rebirth of this ravished area of the city and to consider the opportunity for a new City government complex. Today's announcement takes that vision to the next step. We thank both the Governor and the Mayor for their support of this unique public and private partnership," Geller said.

The National Jazz Center will reside in an iconic building designed by Thom Mayne. It will house the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) as well as performance space, studios, classrooms, a library and offices.

"The plans and studies that we have done to date will be the generative material for this complex and important project," said Thom Mayne. "It is now that our work will begin in earnest - to engage and collaborate with the community and with the project's stakeholders to further refine our initial concepts in order to most effectively and sensitively begin to rebuild this key part of the great city of New Orleans."

"The new Hyatt Jazz District is a transformative project that will change the very nature of New Orleans for the better, much as the Superdome did a little more than 30 years ago," said Wm. Raymond Manning, the lead local architect in planning and design of the district. "Unlike one iconic building, however, the planned Hyatt Jazz District will integrate our civic infrastructure of courts and city hall with a major tourist destination and park that will link to other areas of the City, including the Quarter, Convention Center and Riverfront," Manning said.

According to Irvin Mayfield, artistic director of NOJO, "The new National Jazz Center and Park will be the catalyst that stimulates the revitalization of the New Orleans economy rightfully centered around jazz, our most abundant natural resource. This will be the finest structure for jazz in the world."

"The new National Jazz Center can be a focal point for rebuilding our talent pool of jazz musicians as well as other artists, cultural troupes and entrepreneurs that the Cultural Committee of the Mayor's Bring New Orleans Back Commission found to be a critical component of rebuilding the City," said Wynton Marsalis, noted jazz musician and co-chairman of the Cultural Committee of the Commission. "This project will complement and enhance New Orleans' vibrant Jazz culture."

The Hyatt Regency New Orleans will be significantly altered and improved to accommodate the Jazz Center. The Hyatt was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but its superstructure remained relatively intact. The Hyatt entranceway will be relocated to the east side of the building, new ballroom space will be built, and a new rooftop restaurant will be added. The whole interior of the Hyatt will be made over and updated.

Estimated costs for the National Jazz Center and Jazz Park are estimated at $716 million and are expected to generate more than $6 billion in economic benefits over 20 years. An economic study commissioned by the Board and conducted by Dr. William Oakland of Tulane University and Dr. Wade Ragas of the University of New Orleans estimates that the plan will generate almost 14,000 man years of construction work and create more than 6,500 permanent jobs.

The National Jazz Center and Park

The core concept of the proposed Hyatt Jazz District plan is to integrate, improve and utilize existing architecture and infrastructure into a design that creates for the first time a world-class National Jazz Center and park.

Creation of a National Jazz Center and park will transform the Hyatt area into a year-round destination for tourists and people who work in the area. For the first time, America's truly unique and original art form will have a permanent home in New Orleans, with facilities that will spur a rebirth of world-class jazz not far from Louis Armstrong's childhood neighborhood. It will also be a center where Jazz can be seriously celebrated, studied, recorded and fostered for future generations.

The park will start at the foot of the National Jazz Center and extend north across green space six blocks to a new, public outdoor amphitheater. Throughout the park interactive art, gardens and fountains reflecting the culture of New Orleans and the South will create an oasis for visitors and their families.

A dynamic bridge will link the Superdome to the great park, unifying major elements of the area into one grand destination.

Archaic city government facilities and civil courts will move into state-of-the-art facilities and a new court building. These new facilities will be able to protect and preserve legal records dating back to 1756. By refurbishing and occupying buildings that were underutilized before Katrina, the city and parish would be able to "right size" and modernize operations at a low cost. Plans are for the old buildings, along with the shopping center, to be razed to make room for the park and National Jazz Center building.

Transportation infrastructure improvements in the advanced planning stages could be modified to accommodate this world-class destination. A loop bus and streetcar linking the Hyatt Jazz District to surrounding business is part of the plan.

Prior to Katrina, the largest office complex in Louisiana surrounded the Hyatt-Superdome District site. Many of its inhabitants have been exploring ways to downsize or leave the city entirely. By creating a world-class destination at their doorway, firms will be enticed to stay, and other businesses will be drawn to the area.

Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board

Before Katrina had dissipated over the United States, Laurence Geller and his leadership team were assessing the damage to the Hyatt Regency New Orleans and formulating plans to rebuild.

Through direct consultation with Hyatt Corporation, The Superdome, the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, Strategic Hotels & Resorts facilitated the formation of a Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board to evaluate alternatives and make recommendations for the site.

Strategic Hotels & Resorts spent more than $2 million to create the advisory board and fund the planning.

The Advisory Board is composed of leaders in Architecture, Urban Planning, Real Estate, Economics, Business and the Arts from New Orleans and worldwide.

Laurence Geller, Chairman
President and Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Hotels & Resorts

Douglas Geoga
President, Global Hyatt Corporation

Keith Hobbs
CEO, United Designers Europe LTD

Wm. Raymond Manning Architects

Wynton Marsalis
Musician & Composer

Irvin Mayfield
Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

Thom Mayne

William H. Oakland
Professor Emeritus, Tulane University <./p>

J. Kevin Poorman
Pritzker Realty

Wade R. Ragas, Phd, MAI
Real Property Associates Inc

The creation of a major new park is expected to make the District a draw for world travelers, much as Central Park in New York (built in the late 18th century) and Grant Park in Chicago (built in the early 20th century) and its new component, Millennium Park (opened in 2004) have done. This attraction will also draw businesses and dissuade businesses from leaving. In addition, restaurants, retail shops and other businesses are expected to locate adjacent to the park just as has happened in other major cities.


2,889 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Easiest way to describe is #6 is the former Lord & Taylor in New Orleans Centre and that means the mall will not be destroyed. The green space in the forefront is where City Hall, the Civil District Courts and other green space already existed. This view is from the Southwestern edge of the Medical District in the Southwestern Corner of Downtown. This is about a mile or so from the Mississippi River.

Edit: Watched a broadcast on the news and apparently they WILL be demolishing the mall.

427 Posts
Sorry, but I think it's crazy to demolish New Orleans Centre. It was a failure as a mall, but there's not reason it cannot be reconfigured in some way. The atrium is full of some of the best marble money can but, and it makes a stunning public space. At least that portion of it should be saved for some public use, perhaps as a new rear entrance to the Hyatt. I wonder why it cannot be reconfigured to house the civil courts, or as meeting space for the Hyatt.

As for Poydras Plaza. It failed a long time ago and should be demolished.

Also, with all of the riverfront development that will occur, do we need to use precious high ground for a park that covers six blocks?

654 Posts
Ok, that last picture still throws me for a loop. Where is City Hall? Does this new park take over Duncan Plaza as well? Or maybe this new park loops around to the north of Duncan Plaza and the Supreme Court Bldg and garage. Hard to get a handle on it, but it sounds like a great way to reviatalize the area.

Duncan Plaza, City Hall, SuperDome, and 1515 Poydras

483 Posts
TexasStar said:
Ok, that last picture still throws me for a loop. Where is City Hall? Does this new park take over Duncan Plaza as well? Or maybe this new park loops around to the north of Duncan Plaza and the Supreme Court Bldg and garage. Hard to get a handle on it, but it sounds like a great way to reviatalize the area.
Ok, here's a good view of the transformation. It almost matches exactly. Hope this helps...



2,713 Posts
Great news!

2,889 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The proposed jazz center and City Hall complex will be composed by a world-renowned architect
Sunday, June 04, 2006
By Doug MacCash
Art critic
Architect Thom Mayne found time in his hectic schedule last week to stroll a public plaza in Venice, soaking up the sights and sounds of the ever-inundated city by the sea. He would present a lecture in Moscow later that day, but he had a few free hours before his flight. Venice, Moscow, Istanbul and Paris were on Mayne's whirlwind weeklong itinerary, before he would wing home to Los Angeles.

In architecture circles, Mayne, 62, couldn't be hotter. Connecticut-born, schooled at the University of Southern California and Harvard, Mayne began his career in the 1970s, paying his dues with home designs, restaurants and other small-scale projects, building up to the big-budget, high-profile plums that began rolling his way in the '90s. Major buildings of his design are under construction in San Francisco; Eugene, Ore.; Udine, Italy; and Madrid, Spain. An exhibit of his drawings and models are on display at the Pompidou Center in Paris, presented as works of art. In 2005, he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the profession's most prestigious honor.

Most important to New Orleanians, though, Mayne has been charged with designing a major public plaza, the proposed national jazz center and City Hall complex centered on Loyola Avenue and Poydras Street, in another sometimes-inundated city by a sea.

"Architecture is a public act," he said by cell phone on Thursday, Italian street music bubbling in the background. "Architecture operates in a public dimension. Buildings make up our communities. Here I am in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. In Western culture we have a tradition of the public forum."

Design challenges

New Orleans' planned $716 million public forum will challenge Mayne not only to design new structures such as an amphitheater, jazz center and connective bridge, but to somehow visually unite a motley assortment of buildings that includes the Dominion office tower, the high-rise Hyatt Hotel and the Superdome. No mean feat.

Though he hasn't begun penning his New Orleans design, the public can probably expect eye-catching structures of sliced and staggered steel and glass in every geometric shape except the conventional rectangle. Recently, he's taken to sheathing his buildings in curtains of thin aluminum or stainless steel sheet, perforated with millions of tiny holes that admit light and air while deflecting the heat of the sun. The pattern of perforations in his new California Department of Transportation building in Los Angeles is said to sometimes whistle in the wind. It's not known whether he'll use such a design detail in the park dedicated to extemporaneous music.

Mayne's work is not quite as sculptural, silvery or ebullient as his California colleague Frank Gehry. Mayne's designs are starker, simpler and somehow tougher in tone. Despite the ecological and ergonomic virtues of the CalTrans building, some visitors may find it a touch grim. If Gehry is the architectural equivalent of the Beatles, then Mayne may be the Rolling Stones.

Calming fears

Some New Orleans naysayers will, of course, balk at bringing in an outsider -- even an outsider of Mayne's stature -- to sculpt their city's center. But Mayne, who's toured New Orleans twice since the flood, thinks such fears would be misplaced.

"It's not a problem," he said. "Look, we live in a global world. If you were going to have open-heart surgery, you'd be looking for experts. What you're really interested in is the expertise we bring. It makes no difference where we're from, and, of course, we're working with local people on the project.

"We're going to work with the idiosyncratic properties of the city, producing a piece of art absolutely specific to New Orleans. There couldn't be a place more different than Los Angeles. We'll absolutely be referencing the cultural and architectural history in New Orleans, though it will be contemporary, absolutely."

Local architect Ray Manning, whose designs include Woldenberg Park, is teamed with Mayne to help ensure his referencing of cultural and architectural history remains true.

"We've met and talked about this project and informed him about the subtleties of the environment," Manning said. "That's going to be our major role in this.

"If you work in China, there are customs and mores you have to be respectful of."

Reed Kroloff, dean of the Tulane School of Architecture and former editor of Architecture Magazine, is effusive in his praise for Mayne's possible role in the downtown redesign. No one, he feels, is better suited to breathe life into what he calls the "corporate stolidity" of the City Hall sector. Mayne, he says, combines a mastery of urban planning, up-to-the-minute architectural technology and an adventuresome spirit.

"Thom has been and will always be fascinated with strong forms, dynamic forms. His buildings often look like pieces crashing into each other, like violent intersections or collages, like one would expect from (cubist painter) Braque," Kroloff said.

"The result is highly dynamic, very visually dynamic. . . . It's not simply because he wants to make art; he's trying to represent the often jagged visual form of the city. When you look at a city, it's not a smooth thing. He tries to represent that in his buildings. It's like if you were on the Tilt-A-Whirl and you could suddenly stop it. His buildings are like objects frozen in motion."

. . . . . . .

Doug MacCash can be reached at [email protected] or (504) 826-3481.
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