By Claire Byun
After a unanimous vote from the New Orleans City Planning Commission, Bricolage Academy has permission to renovate the former John McDonogh School on Esplanade.
School officials are planning to renovate the existing building on 2526 Esplanade Ave. and 2500 Barracks St. from a secondary educational facility to a primary facility. The CPC approved renovations of the interior of the main building, demolition the existing gymnasium and construction of a new gymnasium.
David Reed, of Verges Rome Architecture, said some of the demolition has already started and school officials were awaiting CPC approval before beginning construction.
“This project will renovate a much-needed building,” Reed told the commission at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The interior of the main building would be renovated to accommodate kindergarten through eighth grade. The first floor would include fifteen classrooms for kindergarten through third grades, a cafeteria, restrooms, reception area, offices and a conference room. The second floor would include ten classrooms for grades four through six, a science lab, an innovation lab, a choir room, a health clinic, an auditorium, restrooms, reception area, offices and conference rooms. The third floor would include seven classrooms for seventh and eighth grades, a media center, a science lab, group instruction space, a music room, an art room, restrooms, reception area, offices and conference rooms.
The existing gymnasium – which sits adjacent to the main building – would be demolished and a new similarly-sized building would be constructed. The first floor includes a two-story gymnasium with full basketball court and bleachers, restrooms, locker rooms, offices and a maker lab. The second floor includes a health lab, laundry facilities, mechanical equipment and storage.
“I think this is fantastic project,” said commissioner Kyle Wedberg. “It’s an important site, it’s an important school and more seats are needed.”
Four new live oak trees are proposed for the public right-of-way adjacent to Esplanade Avenue, two new live oak trees are proposed for the public right-of-way adjacent to North Dorgenois Street and twelve Chinese pistache trees are proposed for the public right-of-way adjacent to North Rocheblave Street. Additionally, a metal canopy is proposed to provide a covered walk way between the two buildings. This area would also be used for drop-off and loading of first through eighth graders. Bus drop-off and loading would occur along Esplanade Avenue.
City Planning staff recommended approval of the project with one proviso: to keep all development in compliance with the regulations of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. The commission approved staff’s recommendation unanimously.
“I wish you the best of luck,” Wedberg said.