United States Custom House

Located on the edge of the French Quarter, The United States Custom House is one of the most important buildings in the City of New Orleans and one of its key pieces of architecture. Originally commissioned by the Federal Government, the US Custom House was originally designed and constructed over a period of many years in the mid 1800s. Renovations completed in later years compromised the integrity of the original architecture. Beginning in 1978, all renovations have included efforts to restore the building to its original design and historical significance.

Of special note in the building is what is known as the Marble Hall. This room on the second floor is actually 95,125 feet with a ceiling height of 54 feet. As quoted in the 1940 History of the Custom House by Stanly C. Arthur, “In point of area and height or in interior decoration the Marble Hall is not surpassed by any public building in the United States.”

Conditions post Katrina found the building in a severe state of disrepair and it became completely vacant for the first time in 150 years. The opportunity arose to not only repair the damage but also implement historic restorations along with technology and system upgrades. Woodward Design+Build was chosen as the general contractor due to our expertise with historic restoration and ability to handle a job of this scale. The work included restoration of the Marble Hall, repairs throughout the building with extensive repairs to the upper floors, upgrades to the mechanical, plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems, restoration of the plaster walls and many features that were covered up by later renovations, repair and restoration of numerous skylights, an extensive recapture of volume and space, and repairs to sections of roofing.

The project has been awarded a National Preservation Honor Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of only 14 projects nationally to receive this honor in 2012.

Highlights of the project can be seen in this video.

Project Information

  • Category
    Historic Restoration Projects
    Military & Government Facility Construction
    Office Building Construction
  • Owner
    United States Government
  • Design
    Waggonner & Ball Architects
  • Size
    400,000 Square Feet
  • Budget
    $36,000,000
  • Location
    New Orleans, LA
  • Completion
    November 2010

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