Tulane University
Lavin-Bernick Center

New Orleans, Louisiana
Architect: Vincent James Associates
Contractor: Broadmoor Construction Co.

Project Overview:

As part of a renovation program undertaken by Tulane University, the challenge was to transform a rigidly compartmentalized and environmentally inefficient building into a dynamic, sustainable new university center. The program included public lounge/study spaces, dining and catering, a bookstore, expanded commercial services, conference facilities, a 300-seat auditorium, and administrative offices. Although the New Orleans climate is hot and humid, there are prolonged periods when daily conditions fall within the comfort zone. The introduction of shade, radiant cooled surfaces, and air movement significantly extends the number of days the building can remain open to the exterior. Retaining only the existing concrete frame, the building facades were reconceived as a dynamic envelope to encourage movement of people, light, and air.

ELEMENT provided a hurricane-proof shading system suspended on stainless steel cables on the exterior of the building. The system cleverly concealed the cable attachment clips inside the body of the shading louvers thus creating an extremely clean smooth transition between cable and louver with no visible fasteners.

Key Contribution by ELEMENT:

  • Materials: Aluminum extrusions, acrylic panels, structural steel, stainless steel mesh, cable support system, machined components and miscellaneous metalwork.

ELEMENT Services:

  • Design Review
  • Preliminary materials, manufacturing, engineering, scheduling and budget estimation
  • Presentation of options and solutions, including schedule, scope and budgeting aspects of various options
  • Engineering analysis, calculations and submittals
  • Prototyping and Samples
  • Mockups
  • Fabrication
  • Delivery


  • Honor Award for Architecture, 2009 AIA
  • Top Ten Green Projects, 2008 AIA/COTE
  • Honor Award, 2007 Minnesota AIA
  • Citation, 2000 Progressive Architecture Award

Select Publications:

  • “The Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life / VJAA”, 7 Sept. 2009, ArchDaily
  • “Bridge from the Past”, Fall 2008, High Performance Buildings
  • “Award-winning Tulane student center is a study in green living”, 20 Sept. 2008, The Times-Picayune
  • “DAZZLING DESIGN”, May 2007, New Orleans Magazine
  • “Tulane wins design award”, 16 Jan. 2009, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report