Located just south of New Orleans, Chalmette High School literally served as a lifeboat for its community during Hurricane Katrina. The school’s second floor provided a refuge while the first floor flooded with 8 feet of water.Almost a decade later, the 221,000-square-foot high school has been refurbished and extended to accommodate the area’s 1,200 students, including 5,500 square feet of translucent canopies designed, engineered and manufactured from the ground up by CPI Daylighting. The green canopies provide shelter over a courtyard joining the original building with its new addition.
“One of the reasons we chose the CPI Daylighting canopy was the durability of its polycarbonate. It has the ability to be put up in a hurricane zone and has the wind and impact resistance we’re looking for,” says Fred Allison, project architect, Lachin Oubre & Associates Architects, New Orleans. “The color ranges the panels came in was also important. We’re using a certain palette of colors and this blended well.”
Featuring CPI Daylighting’s proprietary 16mm Pentaglas Nano-Cell glazing, the custom translucent canopy at Chalmette High provides diffused natural daylight into the space below as well as a durable shelter. Featuring a rust-free aluminum structure and unique curved shape constructed by CPI Daylighting, the canopy uses metal clips produced just for this application to meet the stringent Miami-Dade County wind uplift code. Designed to both connect two buildings of different heights and reflect the school’s mascot, the Owl, the custom canopy was built with two sweeps—like an Owl with open wings.
“We wanted a system that covered you from the elements and could accommodate a large number of people at a time as well as something that would be attractive—a landmark for the school. And that’s what we got,” adds Albert Carey Jr., architect, construction manager, St. Bernard Parish School Board.
To be used for jazz concerts, as a breakout area for school events, cafeteria overflow and the student entrance from the parking lot, the canopy already serves as more than just a walkway but also as a central circulation space for students and faculty.
“The students got back the courtyard they lost in Katrina,” Carey notes. “Only now it’s much better because it’s much more usable to them.”