"We love working on old buildings, each one is unique and has a story to tell. Although most often that story is hidden under layers of adaptations that often did not respect the original intent, each adaptation represented new patterns of living that were not even considered during the original design and construction of the building. As we measure and draw an existing structure we learn as we go which informs all of our decisions. Being able to understand which components are essential to preserve and enhance and which needs to be removed represents the art of architecture.
For 533-537 Dumaine Street, we wanted each apartment to feel like it was part of a continuum and a mediation on time yet fully enhanced with modern necessities. Through a carful study of historic proportions, we worked to reveal the history of each room while developing detailing that represented the craft of construction and a memory of place. Our hope is that as you walkthrough the alley gate from the street you enter into a world that is apart from the present, an arrival that represents the spirit of French Quarter living in the heart of New Orleans. "
Studio WTA, Wayne Troyer and Toni DiMaggio
Building Conservation: As part of the overall building restoration and materials conservation, some specific techniques were utilized to address the issue of rising damp in the masonry load-bearing walls of the structure. On the ground floor in the stair halls, where the original plaster was retained and restored, the bottom portion of the wall was given a sacrificial layer of breathable parge coating with KEIM breathable paint on top, to allow for the rising damp in the shared party walls a way to escape. On the other walls, vented reglets were used on the furred interior finish walls to allow for air to circulate behind the gypsum board, and give any water vapor trapped in the wall a place to evaporate- necessary due to the unbreathable paint on the exterior of these walls. Finally, the rear building required injection waterproofing due to the exterior conditions at the adjacent buildings, as a way to mitigate the rising damp as well as any water transfer from the planting beds or cistern located in the adjacent properties. A wood and glass vitrine was restored based on an historic photo that showed a matching pair on the front facade.