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Sports & Recreation

Football Stadiums and Baseball Fields, St. Bernard Middle School, St. Bernard, La., and Chalmette High School, Chalmette, La.

st_bernard"Fall" means football, so teachers, students and families at two New Orleans schools had real reason to celebrate the 2011 season. Six years ago, their half-century old sports stadiums, along with their classrooms, were among the community assets devastated by Hurricane Katrina's wrath.

But for the efforts of Federal Emergency Management Agency and the St. Bernard Parish School Board, the schools-St. Bernard Middle School and Chalmette High School-would still be relying on borrowed facilities to conduct their sporting events. Designed by Lachin Oubré & Associates, the stadiums are among the firm's comprehensive renovations of both school facilities, each component built with phased-in construction to avoid disrupting school activities, and each incorporates the school branding. Instrumental in the projects were New Orleans construction firms Ellis Construction, tapped to rebuild St. Bernard Middle School, and Gibbs Construction contracted to restore Chalmette High School.

Now their athletes are scoring points in fully restored stadiums and baseball fields that are embellished with signature-style guardrails, complete with wire mesh infill panels powder-coated to match school colors. The railings were created to meet today's building code including ADA guidelines, as well as restore school spirit.

"The renovated facilities show the strength, resilience, and spirit a community that appreciates the value of quality throughout life and the built environment," notes Michael Lachin, AIA, president of Lachin Oubré.

The bright burgundy guard rails at Chalmette and the blue ones at St. Bernard have special significance, as they replaced tattered generic chain link fencing that previously surrounded the stadiums and regulation baseball fields. The completed railing system was installed along the stadium walkways, ramps, stairways, seating and athletic field by the contractors. Their tasteful new look provides safety for spectators and inspiration to the students.

The steel wire mesh infill panels, fabricated by McNICHOLS Co. in a cell-type method and assembled by Hollaender Manufacturing Co. as part of its Interna-Rail railing system, cover nearly 5,000 linear feet-2,750 feet at Chalmette and 2,200 feet at St. Bernard.

McNICHOLS wire mesh panels consist of 0.118-inch wire with 2- by 2-inch openings, that McNICHOLS welded into hems or U channel of 11-gauge carbon steel. Electro-coated and color powder-coated, the panels vary in size based on location and orientation, with the most common size fabricated in 37- by 57-inch sections.

Testing was an important step in the fabrication, adds Ron Credo of Hollaender, noting that the components, which were tested on Hollaenderdesigned test rigs, meet rigorous safety standards.

"By specifying the proper size hem and wire sizes, as well as welding every other wire to the carbon hem, the panels meet the standard building code specification of withstanding 50 pounds per 1-square-foot area," says Credo.

St. Bernard Middle School general contractor:
Ellis Construction, New Orleans

Chalmette High School general contractor:
Gibbs Construction, New Orleans

Architect: Lachin Oubré & Associates,
Metarie, La.

Handrail manufacturer: Hollaender
Manufacturing Co., Cincinnati,
www.hollaender.com, Circle #41

Wire mesh infill panels: McNICHOLS Co.,
Tampa, Fla.,
www.mcnichols.com, Circle #42