Facility Focus (Student Centers)

Tulane University: Mussafer Hall

Tulane University 

TOP LEFT/MIDDLE, BOTTOM LEFT TWO PHOTOS © SARA ESSEX BRADLEY
TOP RIGHT, BOTTOM RIGHT TWO PHOTOS © NEIL ALEXANDER

Prominently located on Tulane University’s historic Gibson quad in New Orleans, LA, Mussafer Hall combines the adaptive reuse of a 1902 brick structure with a modern limestone addition designed to preserve and protect the campus landscape. The 23,000-square-foot academic building is home to the new Center for Student Success, which brings together Tulane’s Academic Advising and Career Services programs. The design provides a bold counterpoint to the historic structure inside as well as out. The addition houses generously sized, flexible public spaces and conference rooms. Sophisticated but utilitarian, the central ground-floor space is designed to accommodate classes, lectures, meetings, receptions, seminars, and other events. Its black millwork panels conceal storage areas, flex space, and markerboards, and the highly adjustable custom shutters are a modern interpretation of a traditional New Orleans feature that provides complete control over natural light.

The 7,600-square-foot addition was shaped by its challenging context, a tight site between the historic dormitory and a majestic 100-year-old live oak tree—the oldest on campus and the only tree allowed to grow naturally.

studioWTA’s inspiring modern design navigates the space with a series of shifting cantilevered volumes clad in stucco, limestone, and glass. The materials suggest a sense of permanence appropriate for a prominent university, and echo the brick, stone, and cement used in the adjacent structure. Mussafer Hall’s triangular footprint is respectfully set back from the historic building and angled away from the tree to protect its roots and canopy. The recessed second-floor storefront deepens the expression of the cantilever above, which partially shades a large roof terrace designed to take full advantage of the New Orleans climate.

Mussafer Hall earned LEED Gold certification thanks to its preservation efforts, dedication to passive sustainable measures, and the thoughtful integration of modern systems to improve building performance.