Published: Monday, November 22, 1993
The lawsuit filed by attorney Thomas W. Tucker seems to be the last hope for rescuing the Rivergate from demolition.
The reasoning behind the destruction of the Rivergate is flawed from all points of view, and yet it appears that the city administration is pushing the idea with the goal of building a world-class casino. The probability is that the proposed architectural design will be a world-class flop.
Renovation and adaptive use of the Rivergate would be clearly less expensive than demolition and construction of a new building. Because of the inherent interest of developers to spend only what is necessary on design and construction, the quality of the new building undoubtedly will be compromised.
A building of civic quality is proposed to be destroyed and replaced by insidious architecture in the post-modern idiom. To contain cost, the architectural style is often executed in plastic foam covered with a thin stucco. The building's life will be short and it will require frequent maintenance.
The Rivergate is a modern building of architectural significance in a city with too few good modern buildings. The design is exemplary of the organic expressionist style, demonstrating the characteristics of structural concrete, and a style of the optimistic times of the late '50s and early '60s. The loss of this important civic building would be tragic.
Having studied the plans of the Rivergate, I have no doubt that the building can be renovated to fulfill the needs of the New Orleans casino. By creative design changes, the Rivergate could be made more friendly to the surrounding streets - for example, more glass penetrations in the concrete walls, cladding the solid concrete walls with polished granite and adding bright, sparkling lighting and interesting marquees.
The original design by Harrah's clearly recognized the Rivergate's potential. This was the right idea.
The best of all worlds would be no casino on the Rivergate site at all, but that does not seem to be in the cards.
E. Eean McNaughton
Illustration: The Rivergate: Loss of this building would be tragic.
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