Project Type: Educational      < Previous Project      Next Project >

Tulane University School of Theater and Dance

Elleonora P. McWilliams Hall
New Orleans, Louisiana

Elleonora P. McWilliams Hall, Tulane University’s Theatre and Dance Building, was built on the last vacant site fronting the original Newcomb Quadrangle, as laid out in the 1917 James Gamble Rogers Master Plan. Rogers, who designed Newcomb Hall and other buildings that adjoin the quadrangle, prescribed a linear building for the site. In the buildings he designed subsequent to the master plan, Rogers established an architectural vocabulary derived from Tuscan buildings, with brick bearing walls, limestone porticoes, multi-light double-hung windows, clay tile roofs, and projected wood eaves with copper gutters. Working within this established context, the building was designed as a three-story bar connected to the 1982 Dixon Hall Annex by means of an arcade and one-story scene shop. Clad in brick and cast stone, the steel-frame structure has a clay tile roof with copper gutters. The L-shaped ground floor forms a small courtyard on the east, while a loggia on this floor serves as an entry foyer and gathering space. A collection of large, high spaces occupies the ground floor: scene and costume shops, a dance studio, and a drama performance space. Offices, a design studio, classrooms, and a conference room occupy the more conventionally scaled second floor. Three large dance studios comprise the third story. Here a change in expression to an aluminum and glass façade beneath projected eaves diminishes the apparent height of the building while providing the studios with unobstructed views of the mature oak treetops, adjacent buildings, and the horizon. Variations in plan from floor to floor are achieved by moving the corridor from west to east, from bottom to top, as section height and fenestrations modulate. An enclosure that at first appears uniform and regular accommodates a program of diverse, specific spaces. This university building thus mediates between outside and inside, past and present.


1997, “Best of New Local Architecture”, New Orleans Magazine
1998, Honor Award, AIA New Orleans
1998, Honor Award, AIA Louisiana
1998, Citation of Merit, AIA Gulf States Region
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