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In 1984, the Louisiana World Exposition, more commonly referred to as the World’s Fair, came to New Orleans, but getting it here started much earlier. The first steps to bring the fair to the city began an entire decade earlier when Executive Director of the Council for a Better Louisiana Edward Stagg pitched the idea to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as a chance to boost Louisiana’s economy. A fair would repair existing infrastructure, create new public facilities and spark a new tourism industry in New Orleans.
Landis was selected amongst an impressive field of bidders to lead construction on the massive project, which spanned along the Mississippi River and extending into the rundown warehouse district, tasked with building several signature attractions. Those projects included the Mississippi Aerial River Transit (MART), a $12 million aerial gondola transport system that connected the fair site on the East Bank of the Mississippi River with the West Bank (Old Algiers), and the Petroleum Industries Pavilion, a 20-story high reproduction of an offshore oil rig stocked with a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium that provided a working demonstration of an actual drilling.
The gondola project was the long-time dream of Mardi Gras float designer and native Algerian Blaine Kern, who envisioned a “combination thrill ride and practical commuter vehicle” to connect both banks of the river. Construction of the custom-built aerial gondola system began on September 29, 1983, after a host of clearances from sixty-four state, city, and river agencies that shared jurisdiction over the project. To operate in a generally flat city, Landis built two 360 foot steel cable towers spaced 2169 feet apart to anchor the aerial gondola system. They were designed at a 20-degree tilt toward the river in order to protect the integrity of the Mississippi River levees. The gondola system also included eight safety switches and a unique rescue vehicle known as a Pomabus; a self-propelled cart that could traverse a stopped cable and enclose a gondola so passengers could be removed and brought back to the terminal.
Coincidentally, the fair came just as the local oil industry was bottoming out in Louisiana. However, it did provide the industry and its workers with a stage from which to share their stories. To do that, various oil concerns teamed up to present the Petroleum Pavilion, adorned with a 17-story oil derrick that towered over Centennial Plaza. It was staffed by real oil industry workers who walked visitors step by step through the oil production process, including live demonstrations, emphasizing the personal stories of the people behind the industry.
On May 12, 1984, Landis leadership joined local, state, and national officials to cut the ribbon marking the opening of the fair, which marks one of the most ambitious, optimistic, imaginative, as well as one of the most financially disastrous events in New Orleans’ modern history. Even though visitors enjoyed the eye-catching and state-of-the-art attractions, the Louisiana World Exposition holds the distinction as the only World’s Fair to file bankruptcy and as the last World’s Fair held in the United States.
''For the first time, New Orleans threw a party and nobody came,'' The Times-Picayune gloomily observed that year. That was, of course, an exaggeration, as some visitors came a half dozen times and more, and a lot of people thought it was a fantastic party. But at the end of the day, nobody volunteered to pick up the tab - which amounted to over $100 million - leaving the fair and its contractors in dire circumstances. By the final week, 5,000 fair employees found the banks would not honor their paychecks, and scores of contractors, including Landis, had not been paid.
Although his own company faced ruin as a result of the World’s Fair, Jim Landis stayed true to the ideals upon which Landis was founded, paying out every single one of its subcontractors with whatever remaining corporate and personal funds he had left. That act of selflessness and integrity is remembered by all those in the industry at the time, and a reason many older employees give for not only wanting to work for Landis but for staying with the company for upwards of three decades.
While it may not have generated any money, the World’s Fair generated -- and continues to generate -- fond memories for countless New Orleanians who had the chance to explore its myriad offerings. For Landis, the event demonstrated both the strength and resilience of the company, as well as the core values that would continue to set them apart from their peers for generations to come.
In the mid-80s, Landis transformed the Jax Brewery plant along the Mississippi River from a familiar French Quarter landmark for New Orleans beer-drinkers into what the Chicago Tribune labeled “the newest and hottest attraction in town.” The first phase of the $150 million multi-use development, patterned after Baltimore's Harbor Place, Boston's Faneuil Hall and San Francisco`s Ghirardelli Square, opened in 1984. covered 20 acres of prime French Quarter property opened in 1984 with additional retail development in an adjacent two-story building and on wharves surrounding the building in late 1985. The renovation included four, century-old sugar warehouses to hold the new offices of the Jackson Brewery Development Corp., the project developer, and Berger & Burrus Investments, its principal owner.
While the 19th-Century facade was retained, as was the old ''Home of JAX Beer'' sign on top of the building, the interior was totally gutted, the result being a cavernous 100-foot glass atrium connected by escalators. The first two levels feature everything from Louisiana foodstuffs and Mardi Gras memorabilia to jewelry, antiques, designer clothing, gourmet chocolates, tobacco, and Christmas decorations. The third floor of the newly revitalized building, called Jaxfest, was a salute to the best of New Orleans cooking, featuring new and popular restaurants in the city. Throughout this century, Jax has been a fixture in the community and a source of local pride and civic support.
The company closed in 1974 as the oldest brewery in New Orleans and the only brewer to survive Prohibition. Even though it’s no longer a working brewery, the iconic, 125-year-old Jax building remains a beloved historical landmark with the company name still adorning the façade, reminding locals and visitors alike of the city’s sudsy past. As The Times-Picayune reported: “For anyone who's lived in the city long enough, it's hard not to see the building without thinking -- or singing -- ‘Hello, mellow Jax, little darlin'..."
Constructed by Landis (known at the time as Landis & James Construction) in 1989, the Reily Student Recreation Center at Tulane University was established as the first “for profit” (control access design), on-campus recreation facility in the U.S.
Constructed by Landis (known at the time as Landis & James Construction) in 1989, the Reily Student Recreation Center at Tulane University was established as the first “for profit” (control access design), on-campus recreation facility in the U.S. Over 30 years later, the Reily Center continues to serve as a key focal point for exercise, fitness, and community gatherings for faculty, staff, students, alumni and surrounding residents alike. It also serves as the largest student employer on campus, with 300+ part-time student workers.
This 156,000-square-foot recreation facility includes exercise rooms for spinning and aerobics classes, basketball and racquetball courts, weightlifting and fitness equipment, an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool and an outdoor pool and sun deck. Adjacent to the main building are outdoor tennis courts and a synthetic turf field for soccer and touch football. In addition to campus recreation, the Reily Center is also the home of the Tulane Institute of Sport Medicine (TISM), and the anatomy lab for the Tulane Center for Anatomical Movement & Science (CAMS).
With over 480,000 annual visits, and 13,000 weekly visitors on average, the center remains one of the most frequented destinations on campus.
In 1986, New Orleans voters approved a $25 million bond issue to build Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, located in a brand new space that took the dilapidated New Orleans riverfront and, for the first time, opened it up and renovated it so everyone could enjoy it. Just five years after the aquarium opened to the public, Landis was selected to construct its new Entergy IMAX® Theatre (now Entergy Giant Screen Theater), utilizing the most advanced motion picture technology available at the time. The theatre, which opened in 1995 at the Aquarium, is home to the Largest IMAX® screen in the Gulf South with a massive 70mm IMAX projection system, sound system, and 4,000-square-foot movie screen. Combining the visual power of a five-and-a-half story screen with dynamic sound, viewers are engulfed in a truly immersive experience, allowing them to explore the wonders of nature like never before.
However, the market began to change in the late 1990s. Commercial theaters engaged in an arms race to create bigger screens with better 3D projectors, and IMAX began moving away from its niche of planetariums and aquariums to compete for the Hollywood moviegoer. Multiplexes began retrofitting traditional screening systems to operate under the IMAX brand, but purists scoffed at the smaller screens and digital projections, which lacked the unparalleled resolution of 70mm film, dubbing the multiplex version LieMAX. In 2015, Audubon announced plans to revamp, rebrand and fully digitize the theatre -- putting an end to IMAX's 10-year run at the aquarium -- giving them more flexibility in offerings, while ensuring their primary mission of providing educational films remained intact. The Entergy Giant Screen Theater continues to dazzle New Orleans natives and tourists alike with larger-than-life adventures and the help of the world's most advanced motion picture technology.
Located in the Woldenberg Art Center on Tulane's campus, the small but widely-respected Newcomb Art Museum has become known for its original exhibitions that highlight the work of women, explore socially engaged art, civic dialogue, and community transformation.
Constructed by Landis (known at the time as Centex Landis) in 1996 as part of the Newcomb Art Department’s expansion and renovation - which included the addition of a 3,600-square-foot exhibition space dedicated to presenting contemporary and historic exhibits to the Tulane and New Orleans communities - the museum builds on the Newcomb College legacy of education, social enterprise, and artistic experience. Along with its exhibitions, the museum regularly holds community programs and events such as artist and author lectures, film screenings, family days, public exhibition and collection tours, performances, studio demonstrations, and craft workshops.
In 2018, the Newcomb Art Museum won the distinction of "Best Gallery or Museum in Louisiana," in addition to being named one of American Art Awards’ 25 Best American Galleries / Museums. While widely known for its significant collection of Newcomb pottery, the institution today focuses on contemporary exhibitions and programs that explore innovative art and design.
“Newcomb Art Museum has a profound legacy of education, social enterprise and artistic experience. Their exhibitions routinely awe, inspire and engage students and visitors. This is a rare art institution which has focused on the contributions of women to the fields of art and design for over 130 years.”
- American Art Awards
Landis was selected as the general contractor to lead the massive new construction project for the 200,000 square-foot Harrah’s Casino in Downtown New Orleans, the only land-based casino in Louisiana, including a 435,000 square-foot, 400-car parking garage that required six- and seven-day workweeks and night shifts to build.
The project consisted of two sub-levels that housed parking and operations, two gaming levels, a 500 seat, multi-level performing theater, and various mechanical mezzanine levels. The copper roof and brick-clad structure integrated both architectural precast concrete details and simulated stone fiberglass reinforced panels. The exterior architectural style of the facility echoed the unique culture and spirit of New Orleans and its people, complementing other buildings in the surrounding tourism hub, such as hotels, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and Riverwalk Shopping Center. High-level finishes included designs by world-renowned Mardi Gras float designer Blaine Kern, putting New Orleans' Carnival on full display across both gaming levels.
Paving the way for the cost-savings expertise Landis has become known for, the construction of the new casino included the reuse of the previous structure, which resulted in significant budget reductions for the owner. Today, the casino continues to serve as a top tourist donation and economic driver for the city of New Orleans, set to embark on a new chapter in its history with a $325 million renovation in the works.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in August 2005, Dr. Norman C. Francis had already decided that Xavier could not wait to begin repairs and stressed that the school would need to reopen in January or face the real possibility that it would never open again. Under his leadership, Xavier applied for and received grant funding from FEMA to set up temporary housing on campus in the form of several trailer cities for employees of Xavier and for workers rebuilding the campus.
As the selected general contractor for this monumental project, Landis walked every single building, cataloging the finishes, damages, and furniture to be able to have an accurate record for the insurance adjusters when they finally showed up. Once the cataloging was completed, the real work of demolition and rebuilding began. In just five short months, the Landis team Landis renovated over 1,100,000 square feet of interior space on the campus without a source of power, an architect, or as-built drawings.
Landis repaired and rebuilt 21 buildings that were severely damaged during the storm, which left the entire campus under four feet of contaminated floor water for an entire month’s time. This was perhaps one of the most daunting challenges Landis has faced in its 65-year history, but as its team has proven time and time again, along with an outstanding group of subcontractors, the job got done -- paving the way for several more FEMA-funded education projects that were instrumental in rebuilding the city the following year.
Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, Global Green contracted Landis to help spearhead a mixed-use master plan to re-inhabit a block in New Orleans’ storm-damaged Holy Cross neighborhood. The project received LEED Platinum level certification, making it the first of its kind in the entire state of Louisiana.
The homes feature solar panels, water cisterns, rain gardens, green roofs, and other environmentally-sustainable features, predicted to save residents an estimated $1,200 to $2,400 a year in utility bills, allowing lower-income families to qualify for the mortgage. Using advanced monitoring systems in the homes, residents can also see their energy and resource consumption in real-time and, if they choose, modify their behavior to further lower energy costs to continue to maximize savings. >
Global Green’s New Orleans staff completed the final tour of the Holy Cross Project’s LEED Platinum model home in 2017, bringing the total number of visitors to over 35,000 since its opening.
“The Holy Cross Project served as a catalyst for rebuilding in a smart, more sustainable way."
Marking the culmination of a five-year leadership-transition plan, Landis Construction introduced a new senior executive team to lead the family-owned company into its next chapter in October 2015:
For more than 60 years, Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans has maintained an almost mythical status as one of the nation’s great culinary landmarks, with generations of tourists coming home from and bragging to their friends, "We ate at Brennan's."
Every setting within the establishment honors a distinctive element of New Orleans’s traditions, history, and cultural influence, so when it came time to renovate, it was imperative to find the right general contractor for the job -- a job Landis was honored to take on. The renovation, however, was anything but easy. Originally, owner Ralph Brennan thought he could reopen the restaurant and renovate one room at a time. That proved impossible, due to the need for widespread repairs, and what he thought would take six months took 18.
The team completely gutted the 16,400 square foot wood and masonry-framed building and carefully restored it to accommodate an all-new floor plan. The project called for renovating the first two floors for dining, private parties, three new kitchens, and a wine room/storage space with a capacity of 15,000+ bottles, and the third floor for the restaurant’s business offices.
While New Orleans still has its old name places, such as Galatoire's, Antoine's and Arnaud's, none have undergone as much modernization as Brennan's. Since the completion of this 14-month renovation at 417 Royal St. in the heart of the French Quarter, Brennan’s has enjoyed a new lease on life.
Landis completed construction on the Cambria Hotel located in the heart of New Orleans’ Warehouse District in 2017. The new Cambria Hotel New Orleans sits comfortably in the vibrant warehouse district neighborhood, surrounded by a mix of historic buildings, converted warehouses, and modern commercial and residential structures. With its brick facade and steel windows, it feels as if it has been there forever, an integral part of the neighborhood’s fabric. The site of the new hotel had remained underutilized for years, bypassed by developers because of its odd footprint, limited street frontage, and strict regulatory restrictions.
With a clear vision of the site’s potential and a creative approach to design and construction challenges, Landis worked alongside owner Fillmore Hospitality and Holly & Smith Architects to transform this former parking lot into a handsome and functional full-service hotel, a hospitable and neighborly addition to the streetscape. The hotel earned Landis a 2018 EAGLE Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) National, representing the construction industry’s highest possible honor for project excellence, as well as a National Productivity Award for innovation in construction.
As the selected general contractor for Iberville On-Site Phases V, VI & VII, Landis led a historic transformation of the blighted former Iberville projects site and surrounding vacant areas into the vibrant new City Square 162 affordable living community in Treme. At a time when both the neighborhood and entire city of New Orleans were grappling with a severe affordable housing crisis, this project was instrumental in revitalizing the Iberville-Tremé community, improving its sustainability and increasing access to high-quality services and opportunities.
This project focused on integrating the existing site physically and socially with the surrounding Treme neighborhood to create a diverse, mixed-income, and sustainable community with Energy Star appliances, modern amenities, and improved public recreation and gathering spaces. For its exemplary performance relative to Iberville On-Site Phases V & VI, Landis was awarded its second Excellence in Construction EAGLE Award from ABC National for 2018, as well as a local Award of Excellence from ABC Bayou Chapter.
In 2019, CityBusiness honored a select group of business leaders including former Landis CEO Jim Landis who have had a lasting influence on the city’s economic development and made their mark on the city overall. The following honorees, through their energy, innovative ideas, achievements, and commitment to excellence, have moved our community forward in real and meaningful ways over their careers.
Jim was recognized along with the Best Places to Work honorees at the Dec. 6 luncheon at the Hyatt Regency and profiled in the special Dec. 20 edition of CityBusiness magazine.
The Morial Convention Center is one of New Orleans’ most important and trafficked venues. This project enhanced pedestrian access, streamlined vehicle access, increased outdoor space for the Convention Center, and reconfigured Convention Center Boulevard. Construction included the total replacement of approximately one mile of roadway, including underground utilities, concrete, striping, signage, traffic signals, cobblestone medians, and sidewalks. Landis also built the brand new Transportation Center to house buses, shuttles, taxis, and rideshares with an expansive new steel canopy, seating, and park amenities.
Throughout the two-year construction period, Landis prioritized collaboration with the Convention Center staff to ensure clear expectations and enable ongoing operations. Its team of experts coordinated closely with the bevy of authorities affecting the site, including the Amry Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Entergy, the Port of New Orleans, and the State Fire Marshal, as well as neighboring businesses affected by the construction. During the height of the project, COVID-19 made its way into the country, becoming a real threat to the successful completion of this project. Landis quickly pivoted to protect workers while maintaining job flow, delivering the beautiful final product both on time and on budget, making the Convention Center more competitive with peer facilities and cities across the country.
Situated between the Convention Center and the roadway, the new Linear Park provides countless benefits for residents, businesses, and meeting attendees alike. The 7.5 acres of re-purposed roadway has been completely transformed into lush green spaces and pedestrian corridors that create a truly vibrant experience integrated with New Orleans city life.
In 2020, New Orleans CityBusiness celebrated 40 years of publishing award-winning, in-depth local business news by honoring 40 business leaders who have made significant contributions to the economic development of the New Orleans area. The honorees were selected for having moved our community forward through their energy, innovative ideas, achievements, and commitment to excellence.
The Driving Forces honorees are profiled in a special issue on July 31 that celebrates the 40th anniversary of New Orleans CityBusiness.
Landis recently completed the renovation and expansion of the existing four-story historic building on Howard Avenue, an old office building purchased in 2016 to accommodate a new cultural museum and residential apartment space. As the selected general contractor, Landis worked in constant and close partnership with Duplantis Design Group and world-renowned museum designer Patrick Gallagher, who designed the National World War II Museum, throughout the duration of this project.
After having spent the last several decades operating out of a tiny summer camp near Utica, Mississippi, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience now occupies the bottom two floors of the building, which is appropriately situated in the city’s well-trafficked Warehouse District within blocks of the National WWII Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, the new Culinary and Hospitality Institute, and the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. The new state-of-the-art multimedia exhibits incorporated throughout provide an immersive experience illustrating how Jewish immigrants and succeeding generations adapted to life in the South.
While any historic restoration of a building this size would typically present a range of unpredictable issues, this project also presented the team with unprecedented challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the construction site was located within a very active intersection downtown and within close proximity of the WDSU News station, which made constant coordination of entrances and exits critical. But at the end of the day, in true Landis fashion, the team completed this complicated renovation project safely, successfully, and impressively timely, earning us the highest industry honor from the ABC New Orleans/Bayou Chapter with a 2021 Excellence in Construction Award.
I can’t say enough how much I enjoy working for Landis. They have supported me on every career growth opportunity and training request I brought them. As a veteran with PTSD, they prioritize my mental health and well-being above and beyond what you would expect from your employer. This team constantly shows how much they care and value me by always listening and acting upon my ideas and suggestions.”
— Jeremy Atkinson, Project Manager
While the company continues to evolve, the same core values that guided us when I started back in 1999 hold true today. Landis is a family-oriented business, not only in its ownership but in the sense that each and every employee is made to feel like family and that they’re the company’s top priority and most valuable asset. That’s what sets us apart. That’s why so many people choose to work and stay here."
— Dwayne LeBlanc, Superintendent
The leadership team has always prioritized communication and transparency with its employees, and works to ensure they not only understand, but are a part of, the overall vision and strategy of the company moving forward, as opposed to just the day-to-day. Landis is a place where everyone knows how integral they are in the company’s success.”
— Ryan Allen, VP of Preconstruction
My mom has worked for Landis for 20 years and absolutely loves her job, which is why I decided to apply after college. Having been hired as a Laborer and promoted to Carpenter within just a few years, it was clear how much Landis really cared about professional development and growth opportunities for their team. I can’t wait to see what my future with this company holds.”
— Drew Gathman, Carpenter
We have the best team of people at Landis—I go to work motivated and excited every day! I love my company!”
— Sarah Busch, Vice President of Operations
I’m so proud to work for Landis, it’s always been a great company, and continues to be!”
— Cyndi Ostrowski, Receptionist
8300 Earhart Boulevard, Suite 300
New Orleans, LA 70118
PO Box 4278
New Orleans, LA 70178
Office: (504) 833.6070
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