Historically, many New Orleans buildings contain interior courtyards that provide a private outdoor space for the building. Drawing on this rich tradition, the central courtyard of the Freret Street Art Center also allows light and air to enter the building, while providing a place for visitors and residents of the complex to mingle,. This open, educational atmosphere is beneficial to both parties, but does not inhibit the privacy of the residents in any way.
Until recently, the site of the Freret Street Arts Center, just blocks from the city’s University District, was littered with vacant properties and struggled with crime rates. Within the last decade, however, the this important corridor has undergone a total transformation and is now the home of many new bars, restaurants and community resources. To encourage the young, creative spirit that currently exists in the neighborhood, the program calls for a vibrant space for visitors to view the work of local artists. The public gallery space is highlighted by a ramp system that leads visitors through a series of corridors and into the rest of the building. Louvers on the facade activate the interior space and create playful patterns of light and shadow. Additionally, work spaces and dorm-style housing is provided for 10 artists to live on the premises.