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New Orleans Adopts a Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Law —

JARED BREY APRIL 11, 2019 Late last month, the New Orleans City Council unanimously approved an inclusionary zoning policy requiring that developers provide some affordable units in the city’s strongest housing markets. In “core” neighborhoods like the French Quarter and the Central Business District, developments must include 10 percent affordable units, and “strong” neighborhoods […]

via New Orleans Adopts a Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Law —


Demolition of Structures in New Orleans

It seems that everywhere you turn in the City of New Orleans there is always a requirement that prevents anyone from developing a property without impacting the neighborhood and community. It’s frustrating for the owner or a developer who seeks to make a profit from an earnest investment. As architects, we have to do the proper research to become aware of the applicable project requirements and it is our responsibility to help owners and developers understand the objectives behind the local building codes, historic district design guidelines, and zoning ordinances.

This is not something new. We, architects, should be aware of these regulatory constraints in any way possible to properly advise our clients before they think about buying or developing a property from the minute we are retained.  We cannot leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding out these regulations.

This happens in all jurisdictions where Neighborhood Conservation District regulations have long been part of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. In the City of New Orleans, Neighborhood Conservation District guidelines encompass properties that fall within the boundaries of below City Park from Audubon Park/Uptown Area to the Lower Ninth Ward and section of the Gentilly area above I-10.

Screenshot (88)

Properties located within a Neighborhood Conservation District cannot be demolished or altered in any way unless it is carefully reviewed and approved by the Neighborhood Conservation Design Advisory Committee (NCDAC) which is composed of appointed members by the Mayor and City Council and Zoning, Code Enforcement, Planning, and Health Dept.

The goal of the Neighborhood Conservation District is to protect and preserve existing structures with historical and/or architectural significance beyond what is specified in the standard code. In general, these are buildings that contribute to the overall character of the neighborhood and to New Orleans’ rich architectural history.

Chestnut CDs 7

In New Orleans, if your property is located within a Neighborhood Conservation District the following rules apply before you begin to think about a building permit:

  1. Demolition of the structure is limited to 25% of the floor area and less than 50% of the exterior wall area.
  2. Removal of the roof structure is limited to no more than 50% of the roof structure as measured in plan view.
  3. Demolition shall not include any portion of the Primary Façade (front of the building) unless it is carefully reviewed and approved by the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee for conformance with neighborhood design character requirements.
  4. In a historic district (HDLC) jurisdiction, demolition shall not include structural removal of more than 25% of the primary facade.
  5. Structures located within Historic Districts & Landmarks Commission (HDLC) jurisdictions require review procedures set forth by that department.
  6. Some properties may require City Council motion to be demolished. Such properties may carry significant historical significance.
  7. Upon approval, the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee may recommend conditions or provisos to enhance the property with landscaping and other improvements to make the structure compatible with the historic character and integrity of adjacent developments and the fabric of the neighborhood.
  8. Your project is recommended to be reviewed by the neighborhood association. The stated position of any neighborhood association weighs heavily of the decision of the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee and City Council actions.
  9. Structures that are in danger of imminent collapse or its structural integrity is compromised require the approval of the Code Enforcement officials and the Department of Safety & Permits before the Neighborhood Design Advisory Committee and City Council approves.

This information can be reviewed in the New Orleans Code of Ordinances Section 26-6 Review of Demolition Permits, Section 26-10: Criteria to be evaluated by NCDAC members, and Section 84-22 Definitions. For more information on the application and approval process you can visit the City’s web page at

The end results of an enhanced property add much value and the return on investment may be higher in some cases for the owner or developer. Though, on the other hand, some developers and owners may not decide to go that route because of the regulatory constraints, hurdles, and time-consuming issues & processes they are presented with.

Great week!


Roland A. Arriaga AIA, NCARB, Architect



A Barge Board Creole Cottage

via A Barge Board Creole Cottage

Renovation of a Bracket Style Double Shotgun

Architect: Archi-Dinamica Architects, LLC

Developer: Rufino’s Painting & Construction, Inc.

This case study features an historic renovation of a Bracket Style shotgun house in the Holy Cross neighborhood. The Bracket Style remains one of the most popular architectural styles in New Orleans architecture that flourished from 1880 to 1905. The defining feature of this style are the brackets supporting the gable-on-hip roof overhang. The brackets, constructed of cypress, are found in the mill-work catalogs of the late 1800’s. Cap-molded cornices sit on top of the simple bays in the facade with operable louvered shutters on each side and cast-iron soffit vents.

Bracket Style features are a blend of Late Victorian elements, stained glass doors & attic windows, weatherboard, Italianate brackets, and sunburst patterns on roof. Corners decorated with quoins, turned balusters, decorative roof shingles, and stained-glass embellishments to doors and attic windows were also conducive to the Bracket facades.

The brackets, usually constructed of cypress, are found in the mill-work catalogs of the late 1800’s. Cap-molded cornices sit on top of the simple bays in the facade with operable louvered shutters.

DAUPHINE COLLAGE 2-10-2019 web 3









Queen Anne Cottage Renovation

Proposed #historic renovation of a Queen Anne Style #cottage in Uptown New Orleans. The Eastlake Style spindles and ornament are particularly noteworthy on the front porch. The design uncovers the original side gallery and added a new gable on the side of the home to complement the original gabled roof lines. The home was built c.1894-1900 by a local developer.

Eastlake is a style within the Victorian era. ( 1837 – 1901 )  It came into vogue during the late Victorian era. The house pictured here is a Queen Anne Style Cottage with many Eastlake details.  It was built late in the Victorian period, so having Eastlake in the mix makes sense.

Eastlake style of Queen Anne architecture was named after Charles Eastlake (b.1836 – d.1906), an English author whose ideas about design influenced American home builders. Eastlake Queen Anne cottages are generally smaller in size and they traditionally have more ornamentation and detail.





2nd floor pic

Adding a second story to a one-story home is a bigger challenge than most people realize. A second story home addition is a great idea for any family who needs additional living space, and has the capital and time available to invest in a large-scale home renovation project. Second story additions are also technically complex projects, so it’s a good idea to have an idea about the process and typical costs  before starting. Consider the following 10 steps so that your addition can be successful and run smoothly:

1.       The first step is to hire an experienced architect to find out everything there is to know about adding a second floor to your. Regardless of what your dream entails, all major remodeling projects can benefit from the expert design help of an experienced, licensed architect. Go into the meeting with some designs, floor plans, sketches, and talking points. Be certain about what you want. This will help you prepare for an in-depth discussion about home addition possibilities with your architect.  

2.       Second stories add significant weight to the original structure and foundation of your home and perhaps it was not designed to support the additional loads.  A structural engineer must come and inspect your foundation. Your architect can arrange for the inspection through his engineering consultant. This is a very important step in the process to ensure the existing foundation is built properly and can support the weight of a new second floor. The structural engineer will be able to inspect the foundation/slab to determine its levelness and ability to carry additional loads without failing. If the foundation is not adequately designed to support the additional loads then the architect and engineer must design reinforcements to carry the added weight. 

3.       Once the determination is made to either reinforce the foundation or it is found to be properly designed to support the new second floor then your architect can proceed to prepare a needs, cost, and design options assessment before starting any detailed plans. An architect will evaluate needs, desires, and will help establish a budget with reasonable contingencies to cover for unforeseen conditions and expected delays. He will create a design that’s sensitive to the architectural style of your existing home and scaled to the proper proportions. 

4.       Make sure your project meets building code and zoning requirements. It’s the architect’s job to design the project to satisfy building codes and meet specific structural demands. And striking that balance between aesthetic beauty and structural safety is no easy feat. Why? Because it requires a vast knowledge of various building materials and construction techniques. Hiring a pro makes sure your renovation plays by the rules and avoid as much possible hiring unlicensed low-cost service providers who are just after a few quick bucks. An architect plays and vital role, will add value to your project, and are experts at seeing not only the big picture, but also managing the hundreds of tiny steps between concept and completion. 

5.       Once the project’s  requirements and parameters defined your architect can prepare detailed plans with the engineer’s input along the way.  The engineering involves analysis of your slab and need for strategically placed underground piers inside and around the perimeter to assist in carrying the additional loads.   A similar analysis has to be done if your home is built on a “pier and sill beam” foundation up off the ground.  Critical structural details like beam sizes should all be spelled out in the plans before you get any estimates.  The City and an experienced remodeling contractor will both need this information in order to process a building permit. 

6.       There is more demolition (of roof systems for example), there is a lot more interruption and re-working of the plumbing, electrical systems, and A/C equipment in your attic and walls; the addition of stairs in the house always requires significant changes in the downstairs space, a factor often overlooked in the beginning stages. 

7.       Find a reputable contractor. You need a contractor with strong experience knocking out structural walls and tying into existing mechanical systems.   The most experienced contractors have certifications in remodeling and construction.  Instead of wasting time parading several contractors through the house, use your time wisely to ask the right questions over the phone first , to narrow it down to 1 or 2 companies to come do site visits.  Then your architect will assist you in selecting the one you think is the best fit for you by evaluating bids  and will help you negotiate the project from there.  A skilled remodeler can even help you cut some cost out of the project if need be. 

8.       Getting A Building Permit can be a frustrating process for your second-story addition. Always remember that second story home additions need to be cleared with your municipality. The building department will often need a certification as part of the building permit process to determine if the structure and slab is adequately designed to support a second floor. Zoning requirements may have height and floor area ratio (FAR) limitations that your architect can help you interpret through a needs and options assessment. 

9.       Hire an architect to oversee construction and to administer the contract for construction. Your architect will make sure that the work is being done in accordance with the plans approved by the City. Working to protect your interests, the architect will act as your eyes and ears in the field and will immediately report any deviations from the plans to you unless the contractor has received prior approval from the homeowner in writing regarding any changes in the scope of work and approved design. If a problem should arise–which often happens–the plans will act as a record of what should have been done, and the architect will find a solution without compromising the design, your needs, or your wallet. 

10.   Clean the house and temporarily move out. Those who undertake a second story addition will probably have to move out for a period of time while the contractor works on the home.  You must plan ahead for to find a comfortable place to lodge, either with an accommodating family member or friend while construction is taking place. When the builder is ready to start construction of the remodeling project for your second story addition, he is literally going to raise the roof. That means the attic needs to be cleaned out since it will be fully exposed to the elements, debris, etc. You have to remove everything above the first floor and protect your furniture below. Plan ahead and allow yourself enough time to sort through those items that need to be disposed of and need protection. It might be useful to rent a storage unit, such as a Pod, during the construction to store fine furniture and delicate items. 

These are the real facts about second story addition work.  It is always good to go into these adventures with your eyes open, armed with realistic information, and an architect at your side. Adding a second story to your house is a major remodel. Take the time to plan carefully, ask questions, and prepare your home and your family for this big step.

Questions you should raise with your architect include: 

Can you extend outwards to gain some more space without encroaching the zoning setback lines?

How high can my second story ceiling go without violation the height limitations?

How deep  and how wide do my stairs need to be?

How can I maximize natural light flow?

Can I plan according to the views?

What can I do to make my new upstairs level feel bigger?

Is the design structurally sound, particularly the foundations and walls?

Can a stairway be practically added?

 When you add a second floor to your home, you will likely want to make changes on the main floor. You probably have one or more bedrooms that will move upstairs, so what do you want to do with those rooms once they are vacated? Do you want to create a larger space by knocking down walls? Could you use more room in the kitchen? And how will the addition of a staircase to the second floor impact the current layout? A second story addition does more than create more space. It demands that you put more thought into the rest of the house, so discuss the possibilities with your Architect. 

12193878_1036367243061134_2220994683676835463_nIn 1994, Roland & Jeannette Arriaga, a husband and wife architectural team, established Archi-Dinamica Architects, LLC. The firm specializes in custom residences, historic building additions & renovations, mixed-use projects, and construction management.

We believe that good design is thorough down to the last detail and makes a difference. Our practice focuses on essential aspects and ordering principles to improve and add intellectual and material value, thus, increasing comfort, satisfaction, and fulfillment of its user.

“Good design is thorough down to the last detail. Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user”

-Dieter Rams       


6 Phases of Architectural Services

The steps involved in design and construction; What to expect

To break down the complexity of building projects, building and home owners will reduce the number of frustrations with a basic understanding that design and construction projects involve several steps before they make the decision to build, renovate, or add on. Typically, projects go through the following six phases. However, on some projects several of these steps may be combined or there may be additional ones depending on the complexity of the project. ( see figure 1 below).


The Client and Architect discuss the requirements for the project (how many rooms, the function of the spaces, etc.), testing the fit between the Client’s needs, wants, and budget.


The Architect prepares a series of rough sketches, known as schematic design, which show the general arrangement of rooms and of the site. Some Architects also prepare models or basic computer generated renderings to help visualize the project. The Client approves these sketches before proceeding to the next phase.


The Architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. Floor plans show all the rooms in correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and room finishes.


Once the Client has approved the design, the architect prepares detailed drawings and specifications, which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and build the project. These drawings and specifications become part of the building contract.


The Client selects and hires the contractor. The Architect may be willing to make some recommendations. In many cases, Clients choose from among several contractors they’ve asked to submit bids on the job. The Architect can help you prepare bidding documents as well as invitations to bid and instructions to bidders.


While the Contractor will physically build the home or addition, the Architect can assist the Client in making sure that the project is built according to the plans and specifications. The Architect can make site visits to observe construction, review and approve the Contractor’s applications for payment, and generally keep the Client informed of the project’s progress. The contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures.



Figure 1.

What you need to know about the building permit process.

Hire an Architect to help you navigate through the complex plan review process.

The law requires that your project be prepared by a licensed architect to apply for a permit. Over the last 30 years, the permitting process has changed. Planning and zoning regulations have become more complex and building codes have become significantly more restrictive and the construction atmosphere has become more problematic. Failure to comply with local codes can lead to faulty construction or expensive fixes to correct the mistakes. That is why it becomes ever so important to hire an architect from the onset of a project to help you navigate through the quagmire of building code and zoning regulations applicable to your project. An architect can help you get through the process faster because he or she already have existing knowledge of the local codes and processes that you need to get your permits.

Building codes are not going to get any simpler, and jurisdictions will enforce these regulations relentlessly.  The solution is to build more time into the project schedule for permit review and necessary approvals from neighborhood associations, historic and conservation district departments.

After having established the objectives and the restrictions affecting the project, coming up with design solutions, preparing the Construction Documents, the drawings are issued to the reviewing jurisdiction with a permit application.

It can often take between 2 weeks for a simple project to over 9 months to obtain a permit for a large project.

This lengthy review process is caused by understaffed building departments and large backlogs of projects to be reviewed. Today, the scope and extent of the building codes regulations is much larger. Not only does it take longer for architects to prepare the more extensive documentation that is required to demonstrate compliance, it takes longer for the plans examiners to do their jobs. An architect is familiar with the permit process and can aid in streamlining the plan review process by helping owners navigate through each review department.

There are numerous review and planning departments that a project must be reviewed by and that creates a lengthy permit process. The most important are the city plan review department, the historic district committee if applicable to your project, a design advisory committee if your project is within a character conservation district or zoning overlay area, the state fire marshal’s office if it is a commercial project, and others. An architect working with these plan review agencies in parallel can save lots of time and money rather than doing one at a time. Having an architect on your side who has a good relationship and familiarity with local building code enforcement officials and the permit process is the most effective way to ensure that permits are expedited. An architect will tell you what it will take to permit your project, how long, what applications and what the projected permit costs will be.

You must submit plans prepared by an architect for any new construction or for an addition or alteration to an existing building for both residential and commercial projects.

As soon as you start thinking about your new construction hire an architect. The sooner an architect can begin coordinating and stream-lining the construction permit process the faster you can begin construction. When an architect manages the building permit process from the beginning, the sooner you will receive a building permit. An experienced architect can ensure that your building permit will be ready to issue expeditiously and without delays.

permit flowchart

In most cases, architects will be the most knowledgeable about building codes in your municipality. Architects make sure that building code criteria become part of the plans before applying for a building permit. If you are thinking about building, make sure you hire a licensed architect to help you navigate through the complexities of the permit and plan approval process. An architect can help you save time and money.

The New Orleans Dog-Trot House

Roland A. Arriaga, A.I.A., Architect

Rural dog-trot in Calcasieu Parish, La.

Dogtrots are found throughout the rural South and Appalachia; however, New Orleans dogtrots are unique in use and construction from all other dogtrots in the country. It is theorized that the dog-trot house has its origins in the middle colonies (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland). It originated as a log cabin prototype in the late 1600’s to the early 1700’s introduced by German settlers. The tradition of log building began to spread south and west with migrating Germans and Scots-Irish in the 1730’s. A dogtrot house historically consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway under a common roof.

Air flow through the central breezeway

Developed in response to the climate, the dogtrot-style house utilized a passive ventilation strategy that took advantage of prevailing wind patterns. All spaces opened to the north-south aligned breezeway to allow a constant breeze to flow through it. This was a primitive form of air conditioning to keep the house cool during the hot humid summers of the middle and lower South. The dog trot house was very successful in creating passive ventilation where the air accelerating through the central breezeway, much like the way the flow of water runs through a narrow stream bed, would pull air through the adjoining spaces keeping the interior spaces cool. This makes a good prototype for those considering building energy efficient homes.

Lower Garden District Dog-Trot house

In the South, dogtrot houses have a covered breezeway open to the air at each end, between two rooms under one roof, one story high. One of the living areas consisted of sleeping rooms and the other was where the family gathered to eat and entertain guests. In vernacular terms, the open space forms part of the natural setting and climate; it is particularly comfortable in providing shade and ventilation. The open area serves as a gathering area during the long hot, humid summers and it was the favorite sleeping spot of the family dogs who also found shade from the sun during the day, hence, the word “dogtrot”. According to folklore, dogtrots earned their name because you could hear the family dog walking through the breezeway.

The style gained popularity among plantation owners in rural Louisiana who favored dog-trots as their homes. The central passageway served for additional work space and an area to saddle and bridle horses. Urban dog-trot houses were adapted to fit city living. With smaller lots, New Orleans dog-trots are urban variations resembling of a dog-trot Creole cottage with breezeways that are 2 to 3 feet wide which served as a pass-through to the back of the property at the same taking advantage of its natural cooling effect. All spaces opened to the breezeway for air circulation. This was a primitive form of air conditioning to keep the house cool during the hot humid summers of the middle and lower South. The dog trot house was very successful in creating passive ventilation where the air accelerating through the central breezeway, much like the way the flow of water runs through a narrow stream bed, would pull air through the adjoining spaces keeping the interior spaces cool. This makes a good prototype for those considering building energy efficient homes.

Dog-Trot on St. Anne Street in Treme

Despite this distinction, dog-trots are among the rarest type of house forms in New Orleans. Dog-trots are generally found in rural areas of Louisiana and New Orleans is considered the only city to adapt the dog-trot to its urban fabric incorporating the central passageway into Creole cottages. Most are concentrated around the Mid-City/Treme boundary and in the  Lower Garden District, although a few are found in the Faubourg Marigny and New Marigny neighborhoods. Freed African-American and blue-collar owners adapted their houses to their increasing wealth by applying Classical, Greek Revival, and Italianate-style decoration, and enclosing the passageway.

Modern dog-trots maintain the traditional central passageway concept as a passive cooling feature while incorporating modern and sustainable materials. Nevertheless, the dogtrot house is an intrinsic example of vernacular architecture in New Orleans. Further research will continue to yield more answers about its true origins and connections to folk architecture of the rural South.

Architect-Led Design-Build

By Roland A. Arriaga, A.I.A. Architect

The Residential Design-Build Project Delivery Process Led By Your Architect

What is Design-Build?

Design-build is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility led by either an architect-builder or general contractor. Design-build is more streamlined than the traditional method known as design-bid-build, where design and construction were clearly separated.

The Architect and the Role of the Master Builder

Filippo Brunelleschi. Italian architect/master builder during the Italian Renaissance (15th century AD)

Historically, construction projects were delivered by design-build method with the Architect in charge. The architect was called the master builder and had overall responsibility for the project, both the design and construction. The master builder model was used in the construction of cathedrals and important buildings before the Renaissance in Europe and the central figure from design through construction was usually the architect who held total project control and accountability. However, as the legal climate has become more adversarial, design professionals have retreated from responsibility for construction, carving out the ever-narrowing niche that they now occupy. Today, the design-build system is a return to some of the fundamentals of the master builder concept and is fast becoming the preferred method of delivery.

Why Design-Build?

Architect-led design-build, as described above, benefits owners for the following reasons:

  1. Faster delivery because overall project duration is shortened since the project can be efficiently fast-tracked due to the designer and constructor being a single entity,
  2. Costs can be determined at an earlier stage and usually with greater accuracy,
  3. Design quality is likely to be superior in a design-build project that led by the Architect rather than the builder,
  4. Design-build minimizes the project risk for an owner and reduces delivery schedule by overlapping the design phase and construction phase of a project,
  5. One entity is accountable for cost, schedule, and performance,
  6. Reduction of unwelcome changes orders,
  7. Better control of project budgets, schedules and overall project quality, including the quality of design.
  8. Communication is direct between the architect and client without the intervention of a third party.

Using the traditional method of Design-Bid-Build, a complete set of drawings and specifications must be fully drafted, then issued for pricing from all of the various trades. Only at this time can the true cost of the project be determined. Quite often, the drawings result in cost overruns and need to be rethought, redrawn, and once again submitted for pricing. This method often leads to frustration, lost time, and additional design fees.

Using the Design-Build approach, the preliminary design is prepared by the architect first. Then the project cost is determined. This method involves the various trades to establish costs in the design phase. At this stage value engineering is performed and the architect compensates for potential material shortages and scheduling requirements.The budgetary cost controls the balance of the design process and ensures that the drawings accurately reflect the requirements, budget and schedule of the client.

Architect-Led Design-Build offers the client a higher-quality service and product than is found with a separate architect and builder. Whenever possible, we encourage our clients to strongly consider the design-build process for project delivery. Because bidding, value engineering, and design happen simultaneously under design-build, a fixed cost for the construction of the project can be determined at the same time the design of the project is completed and value engineering decisions are immediately made based on current market conditions. This allows the owner to immediately enter into an agreement for the construction of the project with the architect as general contractor.  There is no need to endure the lengthy bid process under traditional design, bid, and build scenarios because all of the bidding for the project is completed during the design phase.

When the architect is the contractor communication with the client is direct during construction. Communication with consultants, subcontractors, suppliers, and local authorities is also direct  between the architect-builder and the parties. In addition, as the contractor, the architect has the benefit of having the information needed to act on many issues, without having to confer with the client. This is turn reduced turnaround times for decisions and minimizes the chance of miscommunication or misunderstanding thereby reducing exposure to change orders and legal action.

Design-Build Method vs. the traditional Design-Bid- Build Method (click to enlarge)

Architect-Led Design-Build is quickly becoming the delivery method of choice for a wide variety of project types.  From the simplest single family residential projects, to the most complex commercial projects, Design-Build has proven to be a reliable way to fast track projects and achieve maximum value for project owners.  Because the process allows multiple tasks to run simultaneously, instead of sequentially, it gets projects out of design and under construction quicker.  Because the project team has been working together since the beginning of design, communication during construction is more efficient.  Because the Architect has been involved in the design process, he is less likely to encounter unanticipated problems with the project during construction.  Finally, because the project was bid during the design process, design decisions are made based on actual, current, market conditions, thus allowing maximum opportunity to meet project budget with the best possible design for the project.

Ultimately, an architect-led design/build team will render the best results for everybody involved. Whether it’s a team of independent design-build professionals or one integrated design/build company, this approach to team building and project leadership becomes a win-win situation for everyone involved, particularly the client.

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