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Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

Zeta Beta Tau fraternity’s original house burned beyond repair in January of 2007 and required replacement.  The offsite owner desired a building that could take a lot of abuse from occupants, operate efficiently and present a fresh public face for the fraternity. Rain-screen wall assemblies, low-E windows, on-demand water heaters, energy-efficient mechanical systems, and low flow toilets maximize efficiency and minimize long term utility costs.

The building is a three-story wood frame structure approximately equal to its predecessor in both volume and floor area. Exterior cladding is a combination of rainscreen siding and smooth plaster – materials which are found on adjacent buildings and throughout the neighborhood.  Steel balconies provide solar control along the south facade, extend social areas, connect the building with street life and can withstand heavy use.  The building mass is broken down formally into a composition of solids in an attempt to moderate between its size and that of the adjacent buildings.

Predicted to sustain the heaviest abuse, the first floor was designed to take it:  a continuous concrete slab floor with integral curb and floor drains allow for quick cleanup after frequent social events; moisture- and impact-resistant gypsum wallboard were specified; and variously-sized ceiling applications of cementitious wood fiber acoustic panels would contribute to sound absorption.  On upper floors, individual sleeping rooms flank a center corridor; each pair of rooms share a bathroom.  Social and study spaces are located along the street side of the building forming a buffer between public and private areas.

Total dimensions
729 sq ft (Area)
Location
New Orleans, LA
Total cost
$1,800,000
  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Top:  The building was heavily damaged by two separate fires and required full replacement.

    Bottom:  The new expression of the building relates formally to its surrounding context:  Balconies and porches reinforce the rhythm of the street fabric and exterior cladding is a combination of smooth plaster and rainscreen siding assembly.  The scale and form of the project fit comfortably on the site and in the area as a whole. Balconies are all steel, clear- finished, with perforated screens for semi-privacy. 

    These outdoor living spaces enhance the occupants experience of the building and add to the communal atmosphere related to the sidewalk and street culture. Varied widths of siding lend an added level of texture and movement to the façade, as do subtle shifts in the blue color.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Views from the large front  balconies are augmented by slotted and square openings in the plaster wing walls.

    Solar protection is achieved through the balconies and third floor canopy, and the small balconies include a full- height perforated screen to protect the large door/ window assemblies by which they are served. A combination of clear glazing and translucent materials increase the depth of the façade and achieve varied levels of privacy for residents.  For example, behind the opaque glass center panel on the third floor is the private bathroom in the fraternity President’s suite.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Each single room is provided with an operable window; these can be seen on the long facades.  The smooth plaster is interrupted by an inset of Hardiplank, to relieve the mass of the material. 

    Behind the wood fence, an extended sloping walkway provides the accessible route into the building, and a path to the rear yard terrace.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction:  Walls by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    A large social space is the main focus of the first floor plan; it is supported by a serving area, full commercial kitchen and public restrooms.  An accessible single room and bath are located to the rear of the building.  Main entry is through a foyer off the porch, with secondary side entry from the north and large terrace to the rear.  The south side of the building is a service area where utilities, trash storage and deliveries occur.

    The second and third floors are similar.  Single rooms each have an operable window, ceiling fan and ACU, allowing full climate control to each resident.  Two rooms share a bath, between them, accessed from the corridor.  Social and study areas are located at the front of the building.

    A second means of egress is a rear stair that exits directly to the exterior.  Janitor’s closet and laundry facilities are also provided on each floor.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Balconies relate to adjacent buildings in the neighborhood, providing sun shading and solar control as part of the sustainability goals of the building. Hardiplank siding in various widths creates an interesting rhythm on the façade; it, along with the smooth plaster, is a formal reflection of the existing neighborhood context.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Balconies relate to adjacent buildings in the neighborhood, providing sun shading and solar control as part of the sustainability goals of the building.

    Hardiplank siding in various widths creates an interesting rhythm on the façade; it, along with the smooth plaster, is a formal reflection of the existing neighborhood context.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Hardiplank siding in varied widths is set up in vertical panels (with trim separations) to animate the façade along the South elevation. 

    The siding is part of a rain- screen system as part of the sustainable design initiatives of the project. The rainscreen provides heightened moisture protection to the structure.  It also increases the efficacy of the building’s spray-foam insulation, and improves the building’s thermal insulation.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Living room by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Top and bottom right:  The second floor social room is a generous combination of open spaces that stretch the full width of the building along the street.  Both large and small balconies are accessed from this room. 

    Frosted glass sections maintain privacy; on the third floor, this frosted glass is located in the fraternity president’s bathroom.  Provides a break between façade materials on the exterior.

    The furr down encloses air supply ducts, and the visible recess will house a projector installed in lieu of hanging a flat-screen television on the wall.  Floor tiles can be easily replaced if damaged.

    Bottom left:  The main social space on the first floor stretches the depth of the building and directly accesses a rear terrace seen through the glass doors.  Flexible use was important to the owner, as was abuse-resistant construction.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction:  Corridor & hallway by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Providing alternating color on the walls and in the vinyl floor tile patterning helps to break up the second and third floor corridors.  All occupied spaces are accessed from these corridors. 

    Clear glass at the ends of both corridors provides natural light and framed views of a live oak tree which in turn protects the residents’ privacy from the exterior.

  • Zeta Beta Tau  Fraternity House Reconstruction: modern Houses by studioWTA

    Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House Reconstruction

    Another view of canopy, balcony and full-height screen, highlighting the efficacy of the sun shading devices.  The perforated screens at balconies act as a semi-transparent barrier for privacy, but still encourage air flow.

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