Rehabilitating Charity

Rehabilitating Charity

with Natalie Rendleman

Charity Hospital’s legacy of public service begins in 1736 when it opened its doors to anyone seeking medical care regardless of income. It remained open as a public hospital for its entire lifespan, with management shifting to Louisiana State University in 1997. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005, Charity sustained some damage, but the hospital was ready to accept patients after only a few weeks of cleanup and repairs. However, there were no plans to reopen the hospital as it was condemned and replaced with a new private hospital which opened in 2015. Charity closed as a result of private interests capitalizing on the devastation of Katrina during reconstruction efforts.

Charity hospital's closure resulted in a ripple effect of disruption of the public safety net of mental health and affordable housing resources. This is clear in the closure of two nearby public housing projects, Iberville and Faubourg Lafitte, as well as the closure of publicly funded hospitals in Louisiana in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

The surrounding community faces challenges associated with unaffordable housing and urban heat island effects, both of which contribute negatively to mental health outcomes.

A goal of the design centered on keeping the structural components intact to pursue a more economical and more environmentally sustainable
result. The structural patterns, combined with the path of the sun, became a key vehicle for the design strategy.

Charity Hospital’s closure disrupted a safety net of support for the public’s mental and physical well-being. The adaptive reuse of Charity into affordable housing with environmentally-informed building strategies aims to rehabilitate its legacy of improving the wellness of the surrounding community.

Southwestern Facade Axon and Detail Section

Alternating vertically on every three floors, planter boxes rest inside the facade, as breeze over a moist soil substrate contributes significantly to
cooling capabilities. Stainless steel net panels attach via the openings created by removing existing window fenestration. This strategy preserves
the appearance of the historic facade as much as possible.

Southwestern Cooling Cavity
Elevation Design Logic

The placement of vegetation on the building façade works in conjunction with strategic subtractions from the floor plates to create a cooling cavity, thus buffering heat from the interior. This strategy cools the building and its surroundings, improves air quality, and creates a biophilic adjacency to thriving ecosystems at the unit scale and within the urban context.

Final Unfolded Elevation with Nine City Blocks for scale