SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RIVERGATE

Published: Sunday, February 27, 1994
Edition: THIRD
Section: METRO
Page: B6
Type: LETTERS

Text:

New Orleans

The Rivergate is a significant example of mid-20th century architecture, sits comfortably on its site and relates well with its neighbors.

The Rivergate, according to the Historic District Landmarks Commission and the City Planning Commission, is superior in form and function to the proposed designs that would replace it.

Adaptive re-use of the Rivergate can fulfill all the requirements of a casino. Adaptive re-use would employ many construction workers, artists and artisans. Adaptive re-use will conserve time and money.

City government has been so obsessed with demolition of the Rivergate and its replacement with unsuitable replicative buildings that the promised jobs and economic stimulation supposed to be generated by the gambling industry have not come on line. Those wages and salaries are lost forever.

New Orleans is a city with a distinguished architectural tradition, its streets are lined with excellent examples of different architectural periods and styles and they all have one thing in common: They are honest examples of the architecture of their period and style.

To place a building of replicative rubbish next to the good and honest architecture with which the city is filled would not only be a mistake, it would set the new industry off on a bad footing.

We are going into the 21st century: A new industry should not cross this time line in an outdated building.

The Rivergate was designed by New Orleans architects educated at the School of Architecture of Tulane University. The design unites the twin sinews of art and engineering.

When built, it was the longest clear-span thin-shell concrete roof in the world. While under construction, the site was visited by engineers from Europe and Africa.

The South Hall is one of the great spaces in contemporary architecture and, had Rivergate been originally designed for subsequent adaptation as a gambling casino, it could not have been better devised.

Wake up, city government: The goal, the best casino, is right in your own front yard!

Charles Stich

Illustration: The Rivergate: It can be adapted for a gambling operation. FILE PHOTO



Copyright The Times-Picayune Publishing Corp.