4 NOLA Post-Katrina Architecture Tour

Today I went on a mini architecture tour in NOLA, the focus was modern, sustainable housing built after Katrina. The first stop was Tulane's URBANbuild Studio's Prototype #2 house on Dryades St. in Central City.

The URBANbuild studios were formed after Katrina as a community service project for Tulane School of Architecture students. "Faculty and students engaged in URBANbuild studios are deployed to neighborhoods throughout the city to develop creative and sustainable urban design strategies, innovative designs for new housing, and proposals for site-specific urban interventions and large-scale mixed use urban environments." The houses are built by the students and professors.
The lot for this project is only 27' wide, yet the students managed to design a 1320 sqft house, a variation on the traditional NOLA camelback, that engages its site to the fullest. Porches on the front and back of the house link it to the neighborhood, while the modern lines and materials set it apart.

Funny side story: this house is located in Central City, which is located just north of St. Charles Ave. The area is known for its high crime rate, many of the murders you see on the news take place here...needless to say I was a little bit nervous about photographing this one. My concerns were immediately lifted as soon as we got out of the car. Some jovial and loud neighborhood men were sitting on a porch across the street. They immediately said hello, and when they saw us whip out our cameras they said, "oh, your here to see that house...that's some California style right there..." Early in the project another neighbor told the students, "no one is going to want to live there (upon observing the modern design)" I was wondering how the neighbors would respond, hopefully they understand the spirit of the project: rebuilding NOLA and bringing their neighbors back.
Anyway...overall I really liked this project, the breezeway that links the front and back is my favorite part...check out the website to see many construction and neighborhood pics...

Stop #2 was URBANbuild's first house built in the summer of 2006 in the Treme neighborhood on Dumaine St. This prototype was similar to the first, with the main focus being the porch, an essential architectural element in New Orleans. Pics are from the URBANbuild website as we didn't feel comfortable getting out to photograph this one.

I just came across another house that Tulane students are building this summer. This studio is called GREENbuild, their goal is similar to URBANbuild, but with an eco-friendly approach. Instead of stick building on site, this group built their house in modules in a warehouse, which are now being installed on site at 7th and Daneel St. in Central City. They are not quite finished, but check out their progress on their website- cool progress videos.

Our next destination took us to the Lower Ninth Ward, to see the progress on the Global Green project. You are probably familiar with this highly publicized project that has Brad Pitt as its poster child. The group held an international design competition to develop the site situated adjacent to the Mississippi River. The winning design is by Mathew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD of New York. See their entry here. The project includes a community center, an 18 unit multi-family apartment building, and mulitple single family homes. The goals of the project according to the website are:

-Creating a green model or showcase for development and rebuilding for New Orleans, and green affordable housing in the US

-Ensuring the sustainability and long term affordability of the Project’s housing units for residents, and socioeconomic fabric of the neighborhood through the center

-Educating NOLA residents, the Gulf Coast and broader American public through the Project’s visitors center, NOLA resource center, and website about the benefits of green building

-Advancing smart solutions to global warming that both benefit communities (e.g., affordable housing, schools) and engage stakeholders in building will for action

So here is what we found:

One not finished house, a big fence, and a security gaurd...now I'm going to try to remain positive about this project, as it has brought attention to a historic neighborhood that is really struggling and seems to have really noble intentions....that said, why is it that a couple of small groups of college students and professors can build three houses that people can actually live in now, and this is as far as the Global Green has gotten?

Our last stop was The New Orleans Mission Family Center on Clio St. in Central City. Supposedly, this was the city's first post-Katrina sustainable building project. It is located on the site of the historic New Orleans Mission, a building severely damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The 4,400-square-foot, two-story, $1.5 million family center is the result of the Gulf Coast Rebuilding Fund, a corporate partnership led by California-based HomeAid, a nonprofit builder of transitional housing; Tulane University's School of Architecture, including design work by third and fourth year students; and two New Orleans architecture firms, Favrot and Shane and Perez, APC. Check out more here.
It is great to see so many sustaible modern projects going on in the city, that will hopefully be the catylyst for more development in the city.


Unknown said...

It is disappointing if that's all Global Green has accomplished, two of my coworkers (at an architectural firm in Seattle) were recently down to participate in the project--I'll have to bug them about what they were actually doing while they were there.

(Hi, wandered over from AT.)

Jessica said...

Hi Ellen. Welcome!
I was quite disappointed too, please do ask your coworkers what the status is- I'd love to have an update from an inside source...

Anonymous said...

I like the modern design. It's simple, but nice to look at. I'm glad they didn't rebuild in a fake heritage style trying to recapture the past.
I linked to you on my blog, you've got lots of great posts!

Depends said...

Nice and great design with best inspiration


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