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The National WWII Museum breaks ground on Bollinger Canopy of Peace
On March 26, construction began on the Bollinger Canopy of Peace as the first pieces of zinc-coated steel arrived. The steel is part of the structure’s massive 825-ton frame-and-truss system. Assembly of the Canopy is scheduled for completion by November 2018 – making it a towering addition to the News Orleans skyline.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The National WWII Museum’s Bollinger Canopy of Peace will soon take its place as a new landmark on the New Orleans skyline. The iconic architectural structure, scheduled for completion in 2018, will rise 148 feet above the center of the institution’s campus. The Canopy—a steel lattice framework supporting Teflon-coated fiberglass panels—will be 482 feet long and 134 feet wide, held aloft by four steel legs anchored in more than 1,260 cubic yards of concrete.

In the midday sun, the towering, bright-white Canopy will serve as a beacon to visitors and locals alike; after sundown, a state-of-the-art lighting system will transform the Canopy and its support legs into a stunning new nighttime landmark for the city. Made possible through a generous 2015 gift from longtime Museum Trustee Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger and his wife Joy, the Canopy will visually unify the Museum’s architecturally distinctive campus, bringing all of the buildings together in a way that embraces the stories told beneath it of the American experience in World War II.

“I’ve been working on creating this Canopy since 2003, when we entered a competition to design the entire Museum campus,” said Bart Voorsanger, the Canopy’s architect. “We knew we wanted to tell an emotional story through the campus design, and we went through at least eight different iterations to bring that story to life. After much consideration, we decided to create a group of pavilions that would reflect the different landscapes and regions of World War II, and we needed something to pull it together in the end—a unifying element.”

For the next several years, Voorsanger worked with Museum leadership to design a series of exhibit pavilions that would be built in phases, all organized around a parade ground, which are common on military bases. The Canopy was envisioned as a crown jewel over the campus that would feel uplifting to visitors, while bringing all of the pavilions together.

“After 15 years of work, I’m thrilled to finally see this vision come to life,” Voorsanger said. “This is a one-of-a-kind structure that I know will become emblematic, raising the Museum’s profile locally in New Orleans and on a national scale. Like the Museum as a whole, the Canopy will celebrate America’s strength when we all come together with hopes of securing peace and liberation.”

The $14 million edifice will be illuminated at night by a lighting system designed by New Orleans’s Solomon Group to rival the displays seen on the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The exterior LED lighting system—similar to those used at sports stadiums around the country—will cast various colors up its steel support legs and through its fiberglass sails.

The 825-ton structure will be moored in reinforced concrete footings already in place beneath the Museum’s campus. The Canopy’s steel is zinc-coated and made up of a frame-and-truss system that’s been wind-tunnel tested to exceed American Society of Civil Engineers safety standards to withstand the most extreme tropical storms. Structural Engineer Thornton Tomasetti, who comissioned the testing, has worked to optimize the performance of structures including the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

“A design project of this size and complexity will truly impact our visitors,” said Museum President & CEO Stephen J. Watson. “From the moment they arrive on campus, the Canopy will grab their attention and set the tone for the rest of their visit. For me, this structure will represent what we were fighting for, and ultimately the peace that was won. Soaring above the Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground, it’ll be an unbelievable sight, and it will have an unforgettable impact on every visitor experience.”

The visitor experience of standing beneath the Canopy of Peace will be a new memorable moment in a city renowned for creating so many of them. Together with Founders Plaza below, the Canopy will help transform the arrival experience to the Museum by creating a magnificent entryway, instantly conveying the size of the campus and the soaring significance of its purpose.

“The Canopy is really going to stun our visitors and our local community members as soon as we begin construction and they see it going up,” Watson continued. “I don’t think anyone can really imagine what it’s going to be—you can tell people about it, but until they see it, they’re not really going to believe it.”

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