AIA New Orleans held their annual meeting this past July and we were there to celebrate Our Spanish Plaza Restaurant winning a Commendation Award for the Commercial/Large Scale category.

This vacant restaurant building on Spanish Plaza, built in concert with the 1984 Worlds Fair was in need of replacement. Along with structural issues, the older building didn’t fit with the context of the Plaza or the revitalized area of the World Trade Center renovations. The developer was looking for a new restaurant shell with an updated aesthetic. Because the building sits on the wharf of the Mississippi River, there were constraints on structural load. The restaurant also sits on public property, and the leasing arrangement limited the overall square footage allowed. Our firm worked within these constraints to create a modern building fits with the fabric of the Plaza.

The existing restaurant was demolished except for the kitchen portion that is housed in the attached plaza building at the rear. The new restaurant follows the same footprint but with a much different aesthetic. Column locations align with pier locations under the wharf in order to distribute the load of the building requiring some very interesting detailing where the river literally laps at our structure.

Studying the World Trade Center, we took the rhythm of the solids and voids and adapted it to fit our project scale. This created the mullion patterns for our storefront. When needed, a metal plate interruption was introduced to separate the rhythm of the concept from the utilitarian needs of elements such as doors.

The building’s clean simple lines emphasize the dramatic one-of-a-kind river view. The articulated overhang varies on each side of the building as a nod to each facades unique function while working with the scale of the overall structure. The building moves from enclosed to transparent, and literally opens up a corner for a future bar to highlight river views.