The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which will transform the facility to exceed the expectations of current and future users and support the destination in being more competitive, is progressing. Conceptual renderings show the unique “immersive interventions” under consideration, including the addition of a third level with flexible, multi-purpose space that has a dramatic view of the Mississippi River. Designs for the renovations to the Convention Center’s 140 meeting rooms and public spaces, all of which are intended to celebrate elements of New Orleans’ iconic culture, are further along.
In June 2021, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority selected AECOM Hunt/Broadmoor, a joint venture between a global infrastructure consulting firm and New Orleans-based construction company, as its Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for the final planning, development and construction of the major upgrades remaining for the $557 million CIP approved in 2018. Since that time, the Center has worked with Populous, a global architectural design firm specializing in creating environments & venues that draw communities and people together, and New Orleans-based architect Nano LLC, to develop designs for these projects, with input from the Center’s Client Advisory Council.
The capital improvement plan has already delivered a 7.5-acre pedestrian park, the renovation of all thirty-five sets of the facility’s restrooms, installation of New Orleans neighborhood-themed charging stations, the upgrade to all new energy efficient LED exhibit hall lighting, internal infrastructure improvements such as an informational technology overhaul, and physical plant renovations including four new chillers, two new cooling towers, six boilers, and a new systems-monitoring station. The Convention Center is projected to begin the $40 million roof replacement project in Q3 2022.
CMAR is a project delivery system that entails a commitment by the construction manager to deliver the project within a guaranteed maximum price (GMP). The construction manager acts as consultant to the owner in the development and design phases and as the equivalent of a general contractor during the construction phase. It binds the company to a negotiated budget and construction performance. They are chosen under a strict process defined by the State of Louisiana based on qualifications and team experience, rather than a low bid. Although this is a relatively new process for the state of Louisiana, CMAR has already become well-known with projects such as the Capital Region I-10 widening project, and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.