Gibson Circle to Get Facelift

February 7, 2004

Gregory Pejic, <i>Hullabaloo</i> staff writer

The St. Charles view of campus will be renovated this semester, complete with a new school sign as well as stone pylons on both ends of Gibson Circle. The former head of Tulane Facilities/Campus Planning, Henry Fry, initiated this addition in 2001 with the help of Zande+Newman Design, a local multi-discipline design studio founded in 1991 by Tulane alumnus Adam Newman and his wife Michelle Zande.

Fry originally approached the design studio in order to undertake a conceptual study of the St. Charles face of the Uptown campus as part of a greater effort to emphasize the identity of Tulane University. "Producing a facilities master plan for the front end of campus" is a vital element on the University's priority list for campus planning, Fry said. The visual impact of the St. Charles entrance "has to function in a very positive way," Fry said.

A donor through the Office of the President funded the study in an effort to improve Gibson Circle, which will include the addition of a new sign for the campus entrance. However, Fry said, "We're looking at the whole circle and not just a sign, per se." The results from the Zande+Newman study indicated the campus lacked the "appropriate identifying signage and clear points of entry," both of which will be dealt with in the current plan.

The new additions will seek to help Tulane better "identify itself to the public," an achievement that can be difficult with a campus that "boasts both historical and state-of-the-art buildings" according to the Zande+Newman study. Upon review of this study, architects at Zande+Newman Design were asked by Tulane University to continue their work and complete a feasible project for the St. Charles face of campus.

Since November 2002, Zande+Newman Design's Newman and Geoff Coats have collaborated with Tulane University, Steve Finegan Architects and Carr Stone to complete the final design. The pylons marking the entrance and exit of Gibson Circle will help echo the architectural and landscape themes all along St. Charles Avenue.

Many other notable landmarks on the street also feature pylons, such as Audubon Park and Audubon Place, which together form a sequence of gateway markers along the Avenue. The sign, or wall monument, will be made from limestone quarried in Bedford, Ind., the location where the original limestone for Gibson, Dinwiddie and Tilton Halls was excavated, John Carr of Carr Stone, who researched the original construction, said. The monument wall will also share the same curvature as Gibson Circle in order to extend the tradition of the original architecture and landscape.

Adam Newman, principle designer of the project, is thankful for the opportunity to work on such an important project as his alma matter. "Ever since my freshman year at Tulane, I have been captivated by the unique beauty of Tulane and have thought about ways to reinforce the connection between this wonderful city and the campus," Newman said. "I'm honored and still a bit amazed that I have the opportunity to return to Tulane and design a project of this magnitude."

The upgrade is scheduled to be complete by graduation weekend of this year and will cost a quarter of a million dollars, the University Architect Collete Creppell said. There are also other construction projects occurring under Facilities Services around campus, including the construction of two new dorms where Zemmuray Hall used to be located and where Old Doris still stands.

The new Zemurray Residence Hall is now in the construction phase and currently has a Summer 2005 deadline, Auxiliary Services said. Old Doris is still in the preliminary stages of design but is approved for construction in the near future. There will be a meeting for students to view the model of the building and drawings of the Doris Project Feb. 12 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Favrot Room of McAlister Auditorium. There are also plans to rework the plaza area in front of Cudd Hall.

One of the most apparent construction projects is the new P.J.'s Coffee Shop underneath Percival Stern Hall. Construction is currently underway and P.J.'s should open by mid-March. The Big Easy Cafe is another addition being constructed this semester. Construction of the Cafe, located on the Pavilion side of Bruff Commons in the space formerly occupied by Bruff Stuff, is currently underway and the venue will open March 1.

Hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. In the more immediate future, McAlister Market is now complete and will open today. This venue is located on the McAlister Drive side of Bruff Commons in the area formerly occupied by the Meal Plan and Vending office.

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