Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Old Tech to High Tech: The Adaption of an Abandoned Power Station in New Orleans as an IT Giant Global Headquarters.

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posted on 2022-07-31, 22:54 authored by Lewis, Amelia

A 19th Century industrialisation Power Plant sits abandoned on the Mississippi River, once producing electricity for New Orleans. Now sitting in neglect, though still retaining its heritage and past historical values. A transformation of steam engines into digital search engines. As the giant tech organisation ‘Google’, relocates their Headquarters. An organisation that will characterise the future for the Power Plant and bring the symbolic representation of the past, present and future. Resulting in the revitalisation of the derelict architecture.

Through spatial and design strategies, this research will illustrate an architectural language that represents the historical values of a building that already exists and has an architectural identity. While invoking the integration of the digital realm, future innovation and technology. Therefore, allowing Google to associate itself within the historical context to envision a new language for future use.

This research will illustrate a connection between company and infrastructure, through then and now. The historical Power Plant was celebrated in its time, as it was the provider for the city in the production of power. Now, in the modern world Google is one of the largest providers for global information and allows us to access this data through the development of technology. This idea of the current innovation and past innovation create many binary comparisons. Enabling ‘then and now’ to work together to evolve and enhance the architecture.

The design approach uses strategies of symbolic representation and value. This project seeks to explore how space can represent both contemporary innovation and the historical context. The research will identify and employ responsiveness to materiality, innovation and adaption of space to inform design decisions. Fundamentally the space, programme, and historical context reconnects and revitalises New Orleans through a new architectural language that connects the past and future.

To create a connection between new and old - technological and representational hybridity of moving between systems will be applied. The early stages will focus on the research and experimental studies and strategies, through the use of traditional techniques. As the project develops the use of digital technology will be introduced to evolve the information into more depth.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Wood, Peter; Dudding, Michael