Remembering Groundbreaking Architect Gary Meadows

Gary Meadows, AIA

NEW ORLEANS, LA (January 17, 2018) – Renowned architect, Gary Meadows, who extended the lifespan of historic buildings through his innovative designs, passed away on December 21, 2017. Meadows’ footprint leaves a lasting mark on cherished family members, friends, mentees and his associates as well as the iconic buildings he breathed life back into through his invaluable work. Throughout his career, Meadows, known as a “design builder’s designer,” was an integral driving force in the adaptive re-use of historic buildings and new construction infill redevelopment in New Orleans.

Born in New Orleans in 1956, Meadows grew up in a family of homebuilders and worked his way through college as a painter in his family’s construction business. In 1979, Meadows earned his Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from Louisiana State University and began work at Woodward Design + Build. A few years later, Meadows moved to Broadmoor Construction as the project architect for HRI’s (now HRI Properties) first hotel development, the transformation of the historic D.H. Holmes Department Store into the Chateau Sonesta. Through Meadow’s direction, the former department store was redeveloped into an elegant four-story hotel on the Canal Street edge of the New Orleans French Quarter. It was then that Meadows’ passion for preserving, while re-envisioning, historic buildings ignited and flourished.  “I’ve known Gary since 1979 when we met at the same firm right out of architecture school,” said Dean Duplantier, principal of Broadmoor Design Group. “Gary grew up in a construction family and he worked most summers building homes alongside his two brothers. He was a remarkable architect, he understood design but more importantly the economics of construction. Gary’s clear sense of space utilization enabled him to detail the work so it could be efficiently built.”

In 1995, Meadows left and formed HCI Architecture, Inc., and served as its president. Over the next two decades he grew the firm into one of the most prolific architecture firms in New Orleans, with over 52 momentous projects spanning the City and State with HRI as his most frequent client. Some of Meadows’ most notable mixed-use local restoration projects include: American Can Apartments, The Cotton Mill, Blue Plate Artist Lofts, as well as the epochal Hibernia Tower building.

Hibernia Tower, the redeveloped Hibernia Bank building, is still one of the most iconic structures of the New Orleans skyline. Spearheaded by Meadows, Hibernia was converted into a mixed-use complex including luxury apartments and offices, and also serves as the corporate headquarters for HRI Properties and its national operations. Through all of these projects, and many more, Meadows used his innovative design skillset to revitalize the city of New Orleans post-Katrina while preserving its unique architectural history. “Gary’s architectural skills, coupled with the fact that he grew up in a construction family, gave him the unique ability to fully understand every project, “ said Wesley Palmisano, president and CEO of Palmisano Group. “Gary and I worked together on more than 20 major downtown New Orleans projects post-Katrina, totaling $1 billion, and he never ceased to amaze me with his knowledge and collaborative approach.”

Other innovative projects by Meadows include the LTV Tower and The Mayflower Building in Dallas, as well as other projects in cities nationwide such as Nashville, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Jackson. When working around the country, Meadows used his ingenuity to create schematic plans that would solve challenges faced by HRI’s developments and then frequently would turn those plans over to a locally-celebrated firm to serve as the Architect of Record on the project.

Meadows was also key in the entire transformation of neighborhoods such as River Garden and Bienville Basin. Bienville Basin, formerly the Iberville Public Housing Project, is a mixed-use, mixed-income community adjacent to New Orleans’ French Quarter. Through a combination of historic renovations and new construction, Bienville Basin significantly contributes to the revitalization of a large portion of downtown New Orleans. Meadows, in collaboration with Manning Architects, led the design on Phases I-VII of the project, ensuring that the revitalized site maintained a physical link to its history while providing modern amenities and conveniences (construction on Phase VII just broke ground and will be finished in 2019). “River Garden and Bienville Basin serve as great examples of Gary’s noteworthy talent. He fully transformed entire neighborhoods with great sensitivity to the importance of preserving their historic architecture,” said Eddie Boettner, chief administrative officer of HRI Properties.

Another unheralded feat Meadows championed during his 22-year career at HCI Architecture was the formation and re-structuring of parking spaces in buildings and areas with limited options. Meadows’ keen aptitude and creativity enabled the development of functional parking structures in many historic locations including 225 Barrone, Hibernia Tower (adjacent garage), LTV Tower and the Mayflower.

Meadows accolades and accomplishments ranged far and wide. He contributed to the design of 87 projects in 12 States with a combined $2.9 billion total project funding value. These projects included over 6,600 hotel rooms, 5,400 apartments, 490 condominiums, 1.4 million square feet of retail/office space and over 4,100 parking spaces. Meadows was an active member of The American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, as well as a member of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “Gary’s design and construction skills combined with his creativity and passion for historic preservation has had a profound impact on the revitalization of New Orleans,” said A. Thomas Leonhard, Jr, president and CEO of HRI Properties. “Gary’s can-do spirit and ability to find solutions to complex design challenges was a special combination. His architectural prowess has had a profound impact on the built environment of New Orleans and leaves a lasting legacy of his love for his community. He will be missed but never forgotten.”

Meadows is survived by his wife Heather Foshee Meadows and children James Gary Meadows, Elizabeth Jane Meadows and James Lee Friedman, his brothers, James Meadows and his wife Cheryl of Destrehan, and Jason Meadows of Metairie and numerous other friends and family. A beloved family member, world-class architect, entrusted leader and mentor, Meadows’ was an unforgettable figure. In 2018, Roger Freibert, will step into Meadows’ shoes as president of HCI Architecture, continuing the ongoing legacy and culture established by Meadows.  “In addition to the foundation for success that he leaves behind, Gary was a mentor to me for over 24 years spanning two design firms, and it was his exceptional ability to manage, but not micromanage, which has distinctively prepared me for my new role and responsibilities,” said Roger Freibert.

In defining his life’s work Meadows often repeated Michelangelo saying his job was, “to find the angel in the block of marble.” Meadows is now teaching the angels and his memory will live on through those that knew him and his monumental works.

 

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About HRI Properties
HRI Properties, LLC (“HRIP”) is an internally managed, fully integrated owner, operator and developer of premium branded hotels and upscale apartments in top urban U.S. markets. Since 1982, HRIP and its predecessor have completed more than 80 projects involving more than $2.5 billion of total invested capital, which include over 5,000 apartment units, over 5,000 hotel rooms, and more than 1.4 million square feet of office and retail space. HRI Lodging, a wholly owned subsidiary of HRIP, provides hotel management services for both HRIP owned and third-party property owners. HRI Lodging operates nearly 30 hotels and is an approved operator for industry leading brands and independent, boutique hotels. HRIP is a full-service real estate development company, with construction management capabilities and is a national leader in the adaptive reuse of historic structures. As the urbanization trend in the U.S. continues, we are committed to developing, acquiring and managing high quality real estate located within “walkable” urban neighborhoods where people want to live, work and play. For more information, please visit our website at www.hriproperties.com.

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