Walton Construction

As the Gulf Coast continues to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans intends to create residential developments that far surpass those that washed away, along with strengthening the sense of community within the city. One such development is the Village de Jardin, a new senior housing community owned by the Louisiana Housing Finance Authority.

"We're trying to build a development with a sense of community," says Ryan Faulk, an architect with Holly & Smith Architects, which designed Village de Jardin. "If we can foster that sense of community through the architecture, it will assist in the revitalization of the area."

Replacing the Gaslight apartments on the same site, the design of the Village de Jardin includes multiple buildings with single-family homes as well as small and large apartment buildings. The mixed-use development will sit on 11.4 acres and will feature 224 living units across 26 buildings.

Although different in type, the buildings will share a uniform look through the use of a single material pallet that includes fiber cement siding, stucco and wood. There will be full-service commercial kitchens, communal dining areas, a library, media space and a multipurpose room available in the two five-story apartment buildings.

Outside, there is space dedicated for a community garden as well as walking paths. Each unit is outfitted with its own outdoor space of some kind, as well, whether that is a balcony or a front porch. In a separate project, the Village de Jardin will be outfitted with commercial space that will house medical clinics run by the Louisiana State University College of Nursing.

The residential portion of the project will be completed in November 2011, a little more than two years after ground was broken. The cost of the project is $40.1 million, all of which came from disaster relief funds from FEMA.

Design of the Time

According to Regis Bergeron, project manager for Facility Planning and Control for the state of Louisiana, the project's architect will make the difference between success and failure for this project. With that in mind, he is more than happy to have Holly & Smith Architects on the job.

Bergeron says the challenge of this project was the variety of building types that had to be constructed in a similar style despite their structural differences. Holly and Smith were charged with creating synergy between single-family houses, duplexes, four-plexes and two high-rise towers.

"They had to get the right look and fit where we had an appealing view for the entire project," Bergeron says. "The selection of the architect was critical, and Holly & Smith have done an excellent job designing and managing the project for the state."

The concept for this style of mixed-use development was spearheaded by the community, led by Louisiana State Senator Ann D. Duplessis, who represented this district during the planning phase. The area has long yearned for a diverse community development that would be suitable for senior living, and residents called for a new style that would be functional in the city of New Orleans.

"People are tired of the same cookie-cutter style for these complexes," Bergeron says. "They wanted this one to stand out, and Holly & Smith has accomplished that."

This is especially poignant in this area of New Orleans. The east side of New Orleans is still in recovery mode after dealing with the results of Hurricane Katrina, and the vision is that Village de Jardin will serve as a beacon of hope for the redevelopment of New Orleans.

"The goal is that the project will serve as an amenity to the community," Faulk says. "While it is a gated community, it will be open to the public during the day. Eventually, the medical clinic will service the larger community as a whole."

Although the property wonÕt be ready for rolling occupation until early 2012, the applications to live in Village de Jardin are already being submitted, according to Faulk. The development has families in the area hoping they can move their loved ones into a safe, reliable community close to their own homes.

"The area where this project is located sustained a lot of damage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina," Faulk adds. "We've worked diligently with everyone involved to create a community with a unique architectural presence, so it's liable to stimulate other pieces of nice architecture in the surrounding area."

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