Tulane Student Center Wins National Award for Architectural Ingenuity

January 13, 2009

Kathryn Hobgood
Phone: 504-865-5229

The Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life at Tulane University is among only nine buildings chosen by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to receive the 2009 Institute Honor Award for Architecture. According to AIA spokeswoman Tracy Ostroff, winners are buildings that exude spirit, foster community, display ingenuity, and “tread lightly on the earth and share a commitment to offer sanctuary for building users.”

The Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life was opened in January 2006 after the original building, erected in 1959, underwent major renovations. The Minneapolis-based architecture firm Vincent James Associates Architects that led the design, along with associate architect Wayne Troyer Architect of New Orleans, kept the existing concrete of the original structure, and adapted many sustainable design strategies, including canopies, shutters, balconies, and fans from climate-responsive architecture traditional to New Orleans.

Using an innovative approach for shading, passive cooling, and dehumidification, the building façades adjust to control climatic extremes and provide permeability when interior and exterior conditions are in equilibrium. A building management system optimizes a mixed-mode system of air-conditioning, radiant surfaces, and ventilation with natural and artificial lighting. Tulane students helped drive the sustainable design, a role noted by the jury.

According to a statement by the AIA jury, “This project offers an opportunity to retrain ourselves to re-think what to expect from buildings and how to transform space to accommodate those expectations. It is training the youth/students what to expect from buildings.”

Other recipients of the 2009 award are two cathedrals, two student centers, a private residence, an affordable housing complex, a youth center, a large office building, and a museum, Seven of the projects are in the U.S.; one is in Monterrey, Mexico; and the other is in Beirut.

In 2008, the AIA honored the Lavin-Bernick Center as one of the nation’s top ten buildings in smart environmental design.   

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000