LOOP NOLA Pavilion

In collaboration with Louisiana Outdoor Outreach Program New Orleans (LOOP NOLA), Small Center students designed and fabricated a large shade structure used for teaching and gathering before and after challenge course activities.

Project Dates

August 2014–December 2014


As urban kids, New Orleans youth and high school students lack opportunities to experience the outdoors and all the benefits of outdoor activities. LOOP NOLA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide positive, life-changing outdoor experiences for children and youth in Greater New Orleans. Beyond camping and canoeing, one of their leadership training activities is a challenge course on an island in city park. Without access to shade or seating, the island ropes course site had posed logistical challenges that interfered with the youth’s experience.

Small Center Engagement

After engaging LOOP NOLA staff to assess their needs, Small Center Design/Build students designed a pavilion that incorporated seating into a large shade structure used for teaching and gathering before and after challenge course activities. The new pavilion allowed LOOP to provide safer and better programs for the students.


Partner Organization

The Louisiana Outdoor Outreach Program New Orleans (LOOP NOLA) engages local underserved youth in outdoor education and leadership programs. They nurture students’ connections to nature by developing a sense of wonder at the natural world along with their social, technical and academic skills through repeated exposure to outdoor adventures over multiple years.The program partners with inner-city schools and community agencies that serve students who are considered at-risk or Title I equivalent.


The design was inspired by the tree canopy surrounding the challenge course and uses blank aluminum traffic signs as a modular, exterior grade unit to create an abstracted, high-performing canopy overhead. In keeping with the context of the adjacent ropes course structure, the canopy is suspended with steel cable from a larger steel structure in a way that creates an undulating, complex curve. The seating is built into an earth berm created by reusing railroad ties from the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.



  • Valerie Bodet

New Orleans City Park

  • Bob Becker
  • John Hopper

Team Members

Project Leads

  • Sam Richards
  • Emilie Taylor Welty


  • Dan Akerley
  • Madison Baker
  • Casey Bemis
  • Jose Cotto
  • John Coyle
  • Rachel Conques
  • Michelle Carroll
  • Maggie Easley
  • Ellen Hearle
  • Emma Jasinski
  • Kate Luxner
  • Sarah Satterlee
  • Meredith Zelenka


  • Scott Bernhard
  • Maurice Cox
  • Dan Etheridge
  • Dozenia Marshall


  • Johnson Controls, Inc

Special Thanks

  • Dash Lumber
  • Dragonfly
  • Millhaus
  • New Orleans Regional Transit Authority
  • Walter Zehner

Press and Awards

Merit Award in Divine Detail

AIA New Orleans

Award of Merit

AIA Gulf States Design Awards