The Mardi Gras spirit captured in the reimagined New Orleans Convention Center 

Date: 14/03/2023








Design has the power to transform neighborhoods, revitalize cities, build relationships and connect people to being part of something bigger. That’s why Populous, a global architecture and design firm, prioritizes listening to the unique perspectives of the community its designing within.

As the firm creates transformative civic spaces for cities around the world, Populous works to ensure that the facilities are reflective of their destination culture and that they provide an authentic guest experience that endears attendees to the communities in which these experiences take place.

That’s what brought the Populous team to New Orleans for the 2023 Mardi Gras. As the executive architect on the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (MCCNO), we wanted to experience firsthand what this event means to the city’s culture and how the city comes to life with one of the most iconic, unique events in the world. Further, we wanted to understand how the multiple parades, events and thousands of visitors interact with the venue.

Populous, along with local design partners NANO and EDR, has been responsible for designing and delivering multiple projects in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), capitalizing on Populous’ global expertise in convention center design and placemaking together with the local knowledge and design skills of NANO and EDR. This partnership has proven valuable to the MCCNO, seamlessly integrating international convention center trends with local culture and meaning.

Populous has conceived a new vision for the convention center that thrives around the concept of “interventions” — strategically transforming key areas of the building and rebuilding new, exciting spaces that will breathe new life into the convention center. These interventions reimagine the existing facility, adding much needed arrival and lobby functionality, as well as new meeting and ballroom space. The new design integrates the existing facility with trend-forward customer experiences to improve the overall quality of experience in New Orleans.

Working closely with convention center leadership, operations and sales teams, Populous was charged with re-imagining many existing spaces in the facility including public lobbies, prefunction spaces, meeting rooms and ballrooms, to satisfy immediate facility needs and address future needs of its guests. Implementation of the CIP included defining and coordinating the design scope of work, budget adherence, prioritization of projects, scheduling, phasing and execution.

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