Vue Orleans: A roof with a view
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Located at the foot of Canal Street, the building now housing the Four Seasons Hotel is springing back to life on the edge of the Mississippi River thanks to developers who are embedding the story of New Orleans into the building and diving deep into the roots of the Crescent City from the top of the skyscraper.
“You know this has been a four-year labor of love coming up with this and it actually grew out of a small idea of how do we tell people why our culture is what it is today, why New Orleans is unique among all cities in the United States,” Paul Flower, the co-developer of the Four Seasons, said.
Flower knew he wanted to do something special with the iconic 33rd floor, which was once a rotating bar, but first, he had to start at the bottom, where visitors enter the Vue Orleans.
“This is a place that pays tribute to the people, the costumes, the food, the music, the river and everything that makes up the beautiful city of New Orleans,” David Rand, the general manager of the Vue Orleans, said.
Rand is passionate about the venue and the story it tells while immersing guests into the culture of New Orleans by using touchless interaction and augmented reality.
“It brings up in three different languages: English, Spanish, and French. What you’re looking at is an incredible way to interact with things, bring them up some of them play music some of them don’t some of them like this one for example talking about second line parades,” Rand said.
At times the displays breakout into music with classic jazz rifts or masking Indians on the screen ready to delight guests exploring the state-of-the-art exhibit.
“We had people like Larry Powell author of The Accidental City and Henry Louis Gates guiding us through this entire process so we would be historically accurate,” Flower said.
“By using touchless technology you’re able to bring up a menu of characters and then bring up the character itself,” Rand said as he demonstrated the touchless tech.
One of the mains stories of New Orleans, is always the food, it unfolds at the Story Café, where guests get the low-down on virtual dishes as they belly up to the bar.
“We tell the story of the most famous types of food in New Orleans, the history of it. Our goal is to try to drive you to places. If you’ve never had a Po’boy, if it’s your first time visiting and you’ve never had a po’boy, how do we get you over to a place to have one in try one and be a good partner to the community,” Rand said.
The story of New Orleans would not be complete without the tunes that make the street sing, all provided under giant gramophones that offer a wide range of artists to learn about.
“We have everything here from Louis Armstrong all the way up to Big Freedia. We’re just going to point at a selection and understand what traditional jazz is, how New Orleans played a role, and then you can listen to a few snippets from Jelly Roll Morton to Louis Armstrong everything in between and then the great thing, like I mentioned, is we don’t leave anyone out. So, we go all the way up to rap and modern bounce with Big Freedia and a couple of other favorites in the city,” Rand said.
The real gem, though, is the top of the city view, complete with an elevator ride up to the 33rd floor, giving guests a brush through centuries of the river’s lore and at the top, a glimpse of New Orleans in the round.
Inside the interior observation deck, guests will find augmented reality stations that provide a detailed dive into the city’s favorite sites.
“You can literally point the station at the landscape out there and at an historic building for instance and that building comes up on the screen and the station tells you all about that building,” Flower said.
“In a few hours learn the lay of the land and everything the city has to offer and how we can be a concierge and guide you to those places, Rand said.
If that’s not enough, climb to the newly constructed 34th exterior observation deck to put your head in the clouds.
“You know, one day if it’s really clear you can almost see the Gulf,” Flower said.
It’s a view of New Orleans that not many have seen in years and now the journey to the crest of city known for living below-sea level, starts right on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi.
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