Going Green on the Greenway

Biophilic design takes center stage at Greenhouse Workspace.

Greenhouse St. Louis LLC // 4157 St. Louis St.
greenhouseworkspace.com //
facebook.com/greenhouseworkspace
@greenhouseworkspace // linkedin.com/company/greenhouse-workspace


Greenhouse Workspace, which opened in February 2023 along the Lafitte Greenway, is a new co-working and event space designed to connect occupants to the natural environment.

“Using the principles of biophilic design, the Greenhouse provides extensive interior and exterior landscaping to bring in a direct connection to nature, creating a healthier and more productive environment for members and guests,” said Community Manager Carolyn Freeman.

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The founders of Greenhouse Workspace — Mike Bertel, owner of Inhab Group; David Hecht, founder and principal of Formwork Development; and Peter Aamodt, president of Elysium Development — wanted to create an innovative space that goes beyond the traditional office environment. By selecting the Lafitte Greenway as the location, the developers also wanted to provide a distinctive space that not only meets the practical needs of its members but also contributes to the cultural, environmental and economic vitality of the surrounding community.

“They envisioned Greenhouse Workspace as being a valuable addition to New Orleans by providing a modern, flexible work and event space that aligns with the city’s evolving business landscape and office market trends,” Freeman said. “The location allows for visitors to easily bike to work from many areas of the city. It’s also adjacent to Carrollton Market, which includes restaurants, two grocery stores and additional retail offerings. The Greenway has always been a vibrant community hub and is known for fostering a collaborative and innovative atmosphere.”

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Opened in February 2023 along the Lafitte Greenway, the approximately 10,000-square-foot Greenhouse Workspace is a coworking and event space that connects occupants to the environment.

Greenhouse Workspace now occupies more than 10,000 square feet in a renovated warehouse and a new adjacent building. The open concept offers flexible office and co-working options, including private offices in various sizes (able to accommodate one to 20 occupants), as well as two conference rooms with audio-visual capabilities, a lounge area, a community kitchen, a courtyard and restroom facilities with a shower.

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In addition to being a hub for co-working, Greenhouse Workspace is also available for events of 150 to 200 guests, such as weddings and receptions, cocktail parties, art markets and exhibits, pop-up shops, business retreats, professional workshops or corporate socials.

According to James Catalano, partner, co-founder and architectural designer at Cicada (lead designers and architect of record for the project), the development team specified ideal office sizes and a desired number of occupants, and, from there, the team at Cicada worked through multiple design iterations to ensure the space was comfortable and code-compliant and attracted the ideal occupancy numbers.

“Our process is highly iterative and collaborative, helping clients make quick and informed decisions,” Catalano said. “We also illustrate every space with materials, colors, furniture and plantings, rendering interior details early in the schematic design phase so our clients can experience the space wholly before we execute refined construction documents.”

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Catalano’s team was initially brought on to laser scan existing structures and create digital twins for quantification and accurate designing.

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(Left) The front fence and gate were custom designed and fabricated using a thin steel profile and vertical wood slats. (Right) The biophilic design included the use of transparent wall systems to welcome natural light into the building and the addition of lush plantings inside and out.

“Our services began with a feasibility study and concept drawings, then eventually led into full construction documents and life-safety drawings, permitting, etc.,” he said. “Dyani Robarge and Adrienne Catalano both assisted with interior and exterior detailing throughout the design and construction process. We coordinated with all the consultants and design collaborators, handled permitting and were in charge of overseeing construction. Luna Botanicals and Batture Engineering were key players in the success of this project. Their technical input and creative problem-solving allowed us to juggle the zoning, life safety, stormwater retention, and landscaping efficiently and purposefully.”

Catalano said the warehouse was an ideal starting point for this project, as it was essentially a blank slate.

“[It] was a mostly empty box with solid walls, which featured large openings for windows and garage doors on the street and courtyard sides,” he said. “We kept the original wood roof trusses, the large steel windows and the garage door openings, though the solid garage doors were replaced with units [mostly] made of glass for more natural lighting.”

The warehouse’s original elements also became central features that contribute to the aesthetic appeal and uniqueness of the space.

“The Greenhouse celebrates the industrial heritage of the warehouse, while layering in elements such as sustainable materials, living plants and creative features that enhance natural light and reflect its modern, sustainable and community-oriented vision,” Freeman said.

The biophilic design included the use of transparent wall systems to welcome natural light into the building and the addition of lush plantings inside and out.

Challenges during the design process came in many forms, especially when it came to egress requirements and standard base flood elevation requirements.

“The long, narrow lot created an egress quandary for our design team, as we needed to meet exit distance requirements,” said Catalano. “The shared courtyard and elevated walkway are a result of this solution, which also allowed for a green space and stormwater retention opportunity.

“We also had to be creative about bringing light deep into the space,” Catalano added. “This was the driving factor behind the transparent wall systems. We strategically placed them at high and low points to bring in natural light, while retaining privacy for the separate workspaces. The new floor slab had to be at a specific height above the base flood elevation, and the new structure was required to be even higher. For the project’s simple shape and layout, the programming and circulation were complex design problems, allowing for creative design solutions.”

For the interior and exterior design, Inhab Millworks fabricated live-edge wood conference tables from fallen pecan and live oak trees, as well as cabinets and a rear-mechanical structural rack.

“Inhab Millworks and Luna Botanicals [also] collaborated to execute the unique exterior curved planters,” Catalano added. “The front fence and gate were also custom designed and fabricated; a thin steel profile and vertical wood slats allowed for privacy and style in a tight footprint.”

The architectural and interior design elements come together to provide a calming, inspiring place for co-working.

“In its identity as a shared workspace for sprouting businesses,” Catalano said. “The intent was to keep the interior space simple, and let the natural light and lush plantings shine.”

Quick Look

Number of years in operation
1
Style of architecture
Adaptive reuse of an existing storage warehouse into a modern workspace

Square footage
10,000

Number of Employees
1

Persons in Charge
Carolyn Freeman

Architect
Cicada

Interior Decor
The Inhab Group

Initial Brand Development
Thought Partner

Art and furnishings
The Inhab Group (furnishings) & Zack Smith Photography (art)

 

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