Mom, Where Do Buildings Come From?

Apr 4, 2014

Marcel Wisznia and Angela O’Byrne.
Credit Grant Morris / It's New Orleans

We talk a lot in New Orleans about the "rebirth" of the city, but before the city was re-born it was born. The architects of what we all agree is our remarkably beautiful city were just that: architects.

The major architects of today's New Orleans are Renaissance men and women. An eye for beauty and an ability to translate that into a design that can be engineered, once thought to be a singularly rare talent in itself, is today just the beginning of a far more complex procedure that involves knowledge of the law, investment skills, management ability and more than a passing knowledge of community dynamics.

Angela O'Byrne is President of Perez, a 100 percent woman- and minority-owned architecture and development company. O'Byrne's stewardship has overseen the New Orleans company's growth into 14 offices nationwide, from Los Angeles to New York. Locally, among myriad other projects, Perez has reimagined public housing, is designing terminals for the new airport, and is creating a blueprint for the rebirth of West End.

Marcel Wisznia is president of the architecture and development company that bears his name: Wisznia. As a developer, Wisznia has bought downtown buildings like The Saratoga, The Maritime and Union Lofts, and as an architect has transformed those buildings into highly desirable living spaces. Wisznia's vision of the New Orleans Central Business District is a major contribution to the creation of what is now a community of 5,000 permanent residents and the subsequent birth of a host of new businesses.