Posts tagged with "New Orleans":

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Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation sued for building defective homes

The Make It Right Foundation, a New Orleans–based housing charity, which was founded by actor Brad Pitt in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has been hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly selling residents “defectively and improperly constructed homes.” Since launching in 2007, the foundation has built more than 100 affordable homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the area most devastated by flooding when the levees broke. The initiative attracted some of the biggest names in architecture, including Pritzker Prize–winners Frank Gehry, Shigeru Ban, Thom Mayne, and Alejandro Aravena, and was lauded in the press for its commitment to building green. However, within a few short years, many of the homes began experiencing serious structural issues as well as mechanical system failures, roof leaks, and black mold growth. According to the lawsuit, Make It Right was made aware of these defects by their own engineers but failed to notify homeowners, who would have been protected by the state’s New Home Warranty Act. The suit goes on to accuse the foundation of fraud, contract breaches, and unfair trade practices. “While the citizens of the 9th Ward are grateful to Brad Pitt they were forced to file this lawsuit because the Make It Right Foundation built substandard homes, that are deteriorating at a rapid pace while the homeowners are stuck with mortgages on properties that have diminished values,” attorney Ron Austin told NBC News. “We have filed to make Make It Right make it right.” The litigation marks the latest in a series of troubling headlines for the celebrity-helmed nonprofit. In 2015, NOLA reported that Make It Right was forced to renovate 39 decaying decks at an average cost of $12,000 each, due to its use of TimberSIL, a purportedly long-lasting wood product that rotted in the subtropical climate. Earlier this year, the KieranTimberlake-designed house at 5012 North Derbigny Street became the first Make It Right home to be demolished, just seven years after being completed, following a prolonged period of vacancy, code violations, and half-finished roof repairs.
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Pelli Clarke Pelli designs a snaking business complex for Tulane University

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (PCPA) connected two preexisting buildings at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University in New Orleans with a 46,000-square-foot addition. The overhaul also included the renovation of a classroom, two auditoriums, and two lecture halls, joining the complete sum of 85,000 square feet with the sweeping curves of a serpentine curtain wall that weaves around century-old oak trees and also loosely references the university’s team mascot, the Tulane Green Wave, an angry-faced cartoon wave holding a megaphone. Bathed in natural light, the distinctive skin provides transparency and openness to enhance the sense of community and collaboration in the new and existing spaces throughout, which include classrooms, an incubator space for student startups, breakout stations, a new financial analysis lab, and administrative offices. Designed to meet LEED Gold criteria and withstand local weather conditions, especially hurricane impact, the unitized, hurricane-resistant YKK AP YUW 750 XT curtain wall and the Viracon glass hybrid system were fashioned in factory-controlled conditions to mitigate risks relating to quality control. YKK’s thermal sunshades and light shelves were assembled as complete curtain wall system units, allowing for a climate-controlled environment that eliminates interior moisture and thermal transfer. The glazed exterior also features a custom frit pattern by Viracon that maximizes the visibility of the structure for birds. Achieving both performance standards and sinuous construction was not an easy feat. The design, development, and construction process was a multiphase project. Beginning with the layout, the serpentine steel curtain wall was preassembled while the structural steel beams and concrete were put in place on-site. This separate undertaking proved to be problematic, as areas in the curtain wall that didn’t line up with the prescribed 90-degree angle of the field layout had to be adjusted before fabrication. The whirly glass wall required an intricate five-mullion support system composed of two convex and two concave structural supports. This then required the sunshades and solar fins to be correctly positioned at various angles along the multifaceted surface, calling for many custom permutations of anchor brackets machined for specific locations. Other customization was necessary for the sunshades and fins, which had to be miter-cut due to the ever-changing nature of the undulating facade, resulting in massive opening-to-opening variations. Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects Location: New Orleans, Louisiana Architect of Record: Manning Architects General Contractor: Broadmoor LLC Glass Fabricator: DeGeorge Glass Company Glass Manufacturer: Viracon Framing Systems: YKK AP America Inc. Panel Work, Sun Shades, and Fins: Performance Architectural Inc.  
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In New Orleans, a team of creative collaborators resurrects a down-on-its-luck motel

Few cities wear their histories quite like New Orleans, where reinvention is always possible. That energy is epitomized by The Drifter Hotel, where hip locals gather with young travelers in a lushly planted courtyard around a pool that not too long ago was filled with dirt. Formerly the Rose Inn Motel, a dingy by-the-hour place with popcorn ceilings and smoke-stained carpets, the new 20-room hotel is a study in renewal on a limited budget—all within the guidelines of tax credits that mandated the keeping of historically significant elements, down to the painted stripes on the parking lot. It’s “a nod to 1950s midcentury architecture housed in a former motel,” said Jayson Seidman of Sandstone Hospitality Developments, who partnered with New Orleans architecture studio Concordia, interiors firm Nicole Cota Studio, and Costa Rican landscape design firm VIDA Design Studio to reimagine the all-American typology for a new century, while honoring its DNA. Uncovering the property’s potential required digging, both in terms of research—like hunting down a vintage postcard on eBay that showed the motel in its heyday—and getting down the bones. The first step involved rethinking the property’s relationship to cars for today’s travelers, who are more likely to Uber to the French Quarter than show up in the family station wagon. That meant relocating parking to a less prominent spot and transforming the former lot into a social space, centered on the restored pool. “Once we started selective demo, that's when things got really exciting,” said Joel Ross of Concordia. “We were able to peel off the layers of carpet, paint, and Sheetrock that the subsequent owners had put in and reveal these long-standing, simple, natural materials that were there.” As the 1950s structure unveiled itself, the team built upon what they found. When installing new pipes in the lobby—a 2,000-square-foot enclosure that had been cobbled into an apartment—required ripping up some of the original terrazzo, they patched the floor with handpicked shards of marble that reference the original pattern but give it an updated, oversize look. To keep that balance between old and new, interior designer Nicole Cota imagined an eccentric family of owners, each adding new layers of interest throughout the decades. “The most amazing properties I've seen here in New Orleans are the weird ones—artists’ homes that have been developed over a long period of time, evolved,” she explained. To create the look, Cota sourced vintage pieces and designed powder-coated outdoor chairs, complete with cup holders, and wood-backed loungers that she had fabricated by Mexa Design. A mix of Holly Hunt and Kravet textiles unify the new and found pieces. Pine tongue-and-groove paneling added period-appropriate interest to the ceiling (“a resourceful way to create bones that weren't there,” she said), while plywood stained with three coats of polyurethane and a fresh application of Benjamin Moore’s China White in high gloss gave the space a new sheen—a move Cota calls her “favorite trick.” Today, guests will find Instagram-worthy accents, like a palm-leaf mural by Alexandra Kilburn and a fiber-art installation, by Carlton Scott Sturgill, that climbs the brick, rather than clichés like fleur-de-lis and Mardi Gras beads. In the guest rooms, built-in furniture, white bath tile, and colorful cement floor tiles from Mexico offer an affordable update in which simple, off-the-shelf parts are combined to create a striking graphic look. The one thing guests won’t find is a TV—a move designed to encourage visitors to take advantage of the hotel’s public spaces and enjoy a part of the city not always on the tourist trail, something locals have already embraced. “The beauty of what we've done,” said Seidman, “is creating a hope for New Orleans.”
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Architect Neri Oxman is hanging out with Brad Pitt, and the internet is going wild

The rumor mill is buzzing around the purportedly budding relationship between Boston-based architect and artist Neri Oxman and actor Brad Pitt. According to Page SixOxman met Pitt when he was referred to her for guidance on an architectural project. Since then, the two have developed what the publication called a "professional friendship." Celebrity gossip mag US Weekly took it a step further, claiming the two have been secretly rendezvousing for months, with Brad even tagging along on Oxman’s professional trips across the globe. The Israeli-American Oxman, a professor at MIT and founder of design group Mediated Matter, is known for her forward-thinking approach to architecture and design that fuses natural, biological forms with the growing capabilities of digital fabrication. Oxman has produced acclaimed pieces such as “The Silk Pavilion,” a CNC-fabricated scaffold coiled with silk thread produced by 6,500 silkworms, and “Gemeni” a solid wood chaise crafted to resemble a cocoon, adorned with cells of varying colors and rigidity. Her ventures into 3-D printed wearables also include a design for Björk's Vulnicura tour, a movable mask that mimicked the musician's own bone and tissue based on scans. Oxman’s work is exhibited widely, including at MoMaSan Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, and the Centre Pompidou. This is not Pitt’s first flirtation with the world of architecture. The Hollywood star met and befriended Frank Gehry in 2001, leading to an internship focused on computer-aided design at the international architect’s Los Angeles office. Since then, Pitt has gone on to found Make it Right, a non-profit focused on delivering environmentally-friendly housing to post-Katrina Louisiana. During this venture, Gehry designed a duplex in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, his only residential project in the state of Louisiana. While Pitt has dabbled in architecture and design, he has nothing on Oxman’s impressive record of academic and design accolades, including the 2016 MIT Collier Medal, the Textiles Spaces 2015 Award, and the 2014 Vilcek Prize. Whatever the truth about their relationship is, Oxman is probably too good for Pitt.
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Remembering Albert C. Ledner, pioneering New Orleans modernist

In the unfolding of any design movement, there are outliers who are seen as too far from the mainstream, too quirky to be celebrated by peers and historians. Over many decades of abundant architectural accomplishment, Albert C. Ledner was one of those. But he recently had the good fortune of winning widespread admiration in the months before his death on November 13 at the age of 93. Born in the Bronx in 1924, Ledner arrived in New Orleans at the age of nine months and left it only for short periods thereafter. His studies at Tulane were interrupted by his World War II service as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. While stationed in Arizona he made a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's winter work place, Taliesin West, an event that, in his words, "had such a great bearing on my life." After the war, he finished his degree program at Tulane and spent some time with Wright at his base at Taliesin East in Wisconsin. By 1951, Ledner had started his own practice back in New Orleans, dedicated not to the Bauhaus-based Modernism largely dominating U.S. architecture of the time, but to the more adventurous variety associated with Wright. And unlike many Wright disciples, Ledner was able to escape the intimidating shadow of the master's creations to explore his own related design inspirations. Over a career that extended throughout his final years, Ledner created some 40 houses in the New Orleans area, not only designing them but directing their construction. He was thus a pioneer in the "design-build" process, led by the architect, not the builder, that has only recently been applauded in the architectural community. By proceeding this way, he was able to seize opportunities for unusual structural systems, distinctive uses of materials, and refinement of details without the tedious negotiations and cost premiums for innovation imposed by the traditional design-bid-build sequence. Ledner's relatively unfettered design approach led him to construct spaces of unconventional configuration and detail. In one house, he affixed some 1,200 amber glass ashtrays to the exterior, in part because the owners were heavy smokers (considered okay in the 1960s), but mainly because he admired the ashtrays' circle-in-a-square configuration. In another of his houses, he based his design on the owner's collection of traditional windows salvaged from the convents for which they were designed—assembling their curved-top shapes both right side–up and upside-down to striking effect. Ledner's youthful leap into structures of larger scale grew out of his first commission for the National Maritime Union for its meeting hall in New Orleans, a circular volume topped by a roof of radial, pleat-like forms. Pleased with this functional and visually iconic 1955 structure, the union commissioned him to design its buildings in the port cities of Mobile, Alabama; Baltimore, Houston, and Galveston, Texas. The most ambitious of these Maritime Union projects were the three structures he designed in Manhattan: the Joseph Curran Building in the West Village area, completed in 1964, containing its hiring hall, offices, and training facilities. Two residence halls for union members were completed later in the mid-1960s on two adjoining sites in Chelsea. All three eye-catching buildings have now been successfully and sensitively adapted for new uses. The sculptural six-story hiring hall and training structure, now under city landmark protection, is now the O'Toole Building, an emergency room and medical center. The residential structures, widely recognized for the circular windows that dot their tall facades, gracefully house the Maritime and Dream hotels. In recent years, Ledner's daughter Catherine produced a documentary on his life and work that featured a number of key buildings and much of his own charming commentary. She found an able and dedicated collaborator in Roy Beeson, her cousin on her mother's side. The film was shown in New Orleans last summer and at a September gathering co-hosted by the Modern architecture advocacy group DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State and AIA New York. For its showing at New York's Architecture and Design Film Festival in early November, Ledner himself attended and spoke, less than a week before his death. It is good to know that he was at last able to enjoy these heart-warming celebrations of his achievements. John Morris Dixon is a board member of DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State.
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New Orleans property swap may yield largest public riverfront in the U.S.

On October 26, a historic deal was implemented in New Orleans: the Port of New Orleans (PNO) and the Public Belt Railroad (PBR) swapped riverfront properties, unlocking a key stretch of land to what may soon be the largest uninterrupted public riverfront in the U.S. In the swap, PNO took ownership of a stretch of railroad along the Mississippi River and PBR took ownership of two large wharves–Esplanade Avenue and Governor Nicholls Street Wharves. PBR is owned by the City of New Orleans, which now plans to redevelop both wharves as public space (à la Mandeville Wharf). This redevelopment will connect two existing riverfront parks, Bywater's Crescent Park and the French Quarter's Woldenburg Park. This linkage is key in the long-term vision to develop the entire New Orleans riverfront as one contiguous public parkway, as detailed by Eskew Dumez + Ripple's 2008 Reinventing the Crescent plan. In a press conference on October 27, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced several major riverfront redevelopments, including the keystone wharf redevelopments. The wharves themselves have been allocated $15 million. The other developments announced are generally focused on improving existing public amenities along the Mississippi riverfront from the French Quarter to Bywater neighborhoods. They include a $7.5 million renovation of Spanish Plaza, a $400 million renovation of the World Trade Center at the Four Seasons hotel, a new $37 million terminal for the Canal Street Ferry, a new $7.3 million pedestrian bridge over the railway to the ferry terminal, $6 million in park improvements for Woldenberg Park in the French Quarter, $3 million in green space improvements for part of the Riverwalk, and $31.2 million for expansions to Crescent Park. Many of these projects are ongoing. After a series of major floods this summer, water experts in New Orleans are paying close attention to how the city is spending on water management. "The challenge in New Orleans is that we can't rub two nickels together to wrap up our water infrastructure and drainage problems," said Ramiro Diaz, a designer at architecture firm Waggonner and Ball, in a call with The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "Overall, I think it's a positive development, though. People have been waiting for these riverfront projects for years." Waggonner and Ball were the lead designers behind the Greater New Orleans Water Plan. According to Eskew Dumez + Ripple principal Steve Dumez, his firm is now looking into implementing the western end of the Reinventing the Crescent plan. This would open up riverfront property around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, extending the parkway even further.
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New Orleans firm OJT redefines overlooked and undervalued properties

The Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series spotlight individuals and firms with distinct design “voices” that have the potential to influence the discipline of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The jury, composed of Sunil Bald, Mario Gooden, Lisa Gray, Paul Lewis, Jing Liu, Thomas Phifer, Bradley Samuels, Billie Tsien, and Ian Volner, selected architects and designers who have significant bodies of realized work that creatively address larger issues in the built environment.

The Architect’s Newspaper featured the Emerging Voices firms in our February issue; stay tuned as we upload those articles to our website over the coming weeks. New Orleans–based OJT's Founder Jonathan Tate will deliver his lecture on March 23, 2017, at The Architecture League in New York City. Click here to learn more!

OJT is making waves in New Orleans with research-based work that redefines overlooked and undervalued properties. Founder Jonathan Tate is an Auburn graduate who experienced the Rural Studio under Samuel Mockbee and spent 10 years in Memphis working for Buildingstudio (formerly Mockbee/Coker Architects). After a sabbatical to study at Harvard, he relocated with the firm to New Orleans in 2008 and started OJT a few years later. “New Orleans just felt like the right place to be. We really cared about what was happening post-Katrina,” he said.

OJT is committed to applying scholarly methods to professional practice. The seven-person firm’s portfolio comprises architecture and planning work as well as self-initiated research, like mapping nonconforming properties in New Orleans. This odd lot of odd lots helped kickstart the firm’s Starter Home* project, a development strategy to build modern, speculative infill housing aimed at first-time buyers.   

The prototype Starter Home*, located at 3106 St. Thomas Street, is shaped by the limitations of its 16-and-half-foot-wide lot and historic setting. The metal-clad building riffs on vernacular forms and uses the allowable 40-foot height to make its narrow spaces feel large. It’s become a model for development in New Orleans, and Tate hopes to apply it to other cities. But he’s quick to point out that OJT isn’t a developer. “Development is a tool for us to continue to explore an idea, and to illustrate imaginative ways to work within rules and regulations,” he explained.

The Starter Home* at 4514 S. Saratoga Street further tests the limits of limitation—not only of the concept, but of architectural tropes. “We’re always negotiating this fine line,” Tate said. “They need to feel like a home but we also want them to be challenging.” OJT’s highly iterative process incorporates 3-D printing to rapidly test formal variations. “It all circles back to the desire to investigate.”

That desire also drives the Zimple house, built for the client’s father after he was diagnosed with dementia. Its clear sequence of spaces and central courtyard, which functions as a visual anchor, is informed by the firm’s research into the effects of memory loss. Located next to the client’s traditional camelback house, the project inverts the vernacular type to balance privacy and openness between the homes.

Although OJT has earned recognition for its residential projects, the firm is applying its methods just as successfully to commercial and cultural work like Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, a restaurant that adapts and subverts a fast food joint, and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, built in a repurposed historic market. “We’re a thoughtful practice that tries to engage every project type in a meaningful way,” Tate said. “This is an intellectual project for us. We’re always asking ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

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A New Orleans nonprofit is crowdfunding its own “Musical Village”

Since 2011, New Orlean's The Music Box has been mixing the creative disciplines of music and architecture, and in the process, winning over locals and musicians such as singer-songwriter Thurstan Moore and Wilco. Started by local artists Delaney Martin, Taylor Shepherd, Jay Pennington, the project was born out of the nonprofit arts organization New Orleans Airlift. https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2468154/video-675844-h264_high.mp4 The project, which sees artists and locals create "musical houses," has witnessed numerous iterations over its lifetime. Previous versions having been rebuilt with locations in Tampa, Shreveport, and even in Kiev, Ukraine. Now however, The Music Box team is looking for a permanent home for where architecture intersects music: The Musical Village. The Musical Village would continue the organization's  growth within the NOLA community and would open this October. To fund the scheme, a Kickstarter page has been set up with a goal of $60,000 required for the project to become a permanent installation. So far "musical houses" have already been built in the Bywater, only a stones throw away from the projects original site. According to the organizers, the village has its eyes set on becoming a "landmark cultural destination, and a place to grow up in for this city’s children. As an interactive art park by day, and a one-of-a-kind musical venue by night, we know that The Music Box Village will be a site for renewable creativity, learning and play, and a wonderland of awe and inspiration for years to come." Last year, The Music Box hosted the Roving Village, a six-week-long installation that saw more than 10,000 visitors and numerous artists including Wilco, Solange Knowles, William Parker perform in City Park, New Orleans. So far, the project estimates that approximately 30,000 have engaged in the scheme.
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NBBJ’s New Orleans hospital embodies resilience

High performance and cultural relevance meet in concrete, metal, and steel mesh envelope.

For the stakeholders involved in building the new Rev. Avery C. Alexander Academic Research Hospital (also known as University Medical Center, or UMC) in downtown New Orleans, the project was about much more than replacing facilities damaged during Hurricane Katrina. "The grander story is the effort to rebuild New Orleans," recalled NBBJ principal Jose Sama. "There was a lot of emotional attachment to the original hospital, Charity Hospital, and also—rightly so—the pride the community has for the character of the city. Everyone wanted to make sure the project was going to be something that was of New Orleans." In a joint venture with Blitch Knevel Architects, NBBJ rose to the challenge with a design that subtly reflects the city's cultural heritage. The building envelope, a combination of precast concrete, metal panels, high performance glazing, and stainless steel mesh, contributed significantly to both the project's aesthetic aspirations and its performance goals. The overarching concept for UMC, explained Sama, was to "create a performance in place." For the architects, "performance" holds a double meaning. "Performance is embedded in [New Orleans] culture, but this is a more high-level sense of performance," said Sama. "Place," in turn, draws on the city's climate and character. "We looked at various clues in the urban environment and how those could affect the design," said Sama, recalling visits to the hospital's Canal Street neighborhood and the French Quarter. Then, of course, there are the environmental threats made all too clear by the Katrina experience. "We completed [the design] with the understanding that we had to create an envelope that could withstand hurricane-force winds and missile impact," said Sama. "That was an important piece of selecting the glass and the curtain wall system." In fact, most of the damage sustained by Charity Hospital was the result of flooding rather than high winds. As a result, the architects faced a mandate to elevate all critical hospital functions above 22 feet. "We envisioned this as a floating hospital," said Sama. "The notion was that the more public zones, the softer spaces like dining, registration, and the lobbies, would occur at the ground level. Then you move up to an elevated plane of critical services. That way they could function regardless of flooding." The building envelope reflects this programmatic move: The first floor of the central campus structure—the diagnostic and treatment center—is wrapped in a transparent curtain wall with a strong emphasis on the horizontal while the upper, critical floors feature a precast concrete facade. The two other project components, the medical office building and the inpatient towers, offer variations on the theme. The former is clad in an insulated metal panel system, the latter in precast concrete, glass, and stainless steel mesh.
  • Facade Manufacturer Harmon (window walls), Centria (metal panels), Cambridge Architectural (metal mesh)
  • Architects NBBJ, Blitch Knevel Architects
  • Facade Installer F.L. Crane & Sons (metal panels, diagnostic building), Crown Corr (metal panels, clinic), Harmon (glazing), River City Erectors (metal mesh)
  • Facade Consultants IBA Consultants
  • Location New Orleans, LA
  • Date of Completion August 2015
  • System precast concrete and metal panels with high performance curtain walls and stainless steel mesh accents
  • Products Harmon window wall systems, Centria insulated metal panels, Cambridge Architectural mesh in Mid-Balance, Scale, and Shade
A number of subtle gestures connect the hospital exterior to New Orleans' history and culture. One thing Sama noticed on his site visits was that "the notion of the garden is important, and the notion of getting outdoors." With that in mind, the architects created a central entry pavilion "designed such that you have a very pronounced sense of entry created by a porch, or a projecting eave—it almost has the effect of a trellis," said Sama. They also created informal gardens wherever possible. The signature garden, nestled between the towers and the diagnostic center, is water-based, and imagines the seating areas as lily pads floating on a pond. "The idea that here in the middle of New Orleans you find a water-intensive garden was really critical," said Sama. The patient towers, too, embody a strong connection to the outdoors via balconies for patients and staff. Metal scrims in Cambridge Architectural's Mid-Balance architectural mesh simultaneously provide aesthetic interest and fall protection. "We studied what we could do with the scrim," said Sama. "We think we picked just the right scale. It's appropriate for someone sitting on the balcony, but also for someone walking by." The mesh panels produce a "soft veil effect," he observed. "In the morning light, it glistens. The intent was to create a memory of Mardi Gras beads, in terms of color and glistening. People will pick up on that different times of day." Cambridge Architectural contributed to several other elements of the project. Mesh fins in the Scale pattern are attached with a custom cable tensioning system to the upper levels of the patient towers, to provide solar shading. On the parking garage portion, designed by Blitz Knevel Architects, 86 panels of Scale mesh again add both visual impact and fall protection without compromising ventilation. On the south elevation of the garage leading to the UMC helipad, a custom-built shade mesh fin system cuts solar gain and glare. Many of the references embedded in the new UMC hospital—the way in which the towers' orientations recall traditional New Orleans shotgun houses, or the connection between the stainless steel mesh and Mardi Gras beads—are so understated as to operate on almost a subliminal level. But like the city itself, the building comes alive at night, finally, and literally, revealing its true colors. "The building from the outside is very neutral," explained Sama. But thanks to accent colors on the inpatient tower stairs, revealed through translucent glass, plus accent lighting on the bulkheads above, after dark the towers shine, he explained. "The whole point was that at night they would glow with color from within."
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The New & Old in New Orleans: Ten years after Katrina, architects still figuring out how to rebuild housing in the city

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast region, inundating New Orleans with contaminated floodwaters, the city is in some ways still getting back on its feet. After much dispute on how to recover the city, architects and developers are looking to new construction and existing building stock for solutions. Many homes in the Crescent City were washed away or irreparably damaged. One of the most predominant home styles damaged in the storm was the so-called shotgun house, named as such due to its elongated style organized around a long corridor stretching the length of the house. That typology is has been deployed by numerous groups in the past decade to rebuild New Orleans. Developers and architects have been snagging headlines rebuilding what was lost. Most notably, Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation, has built over 100 homes in the city, many by top name architects and more still with modern designs that reinterpret the city's historic shotgun house. Make It Right has lately been building "tiny houses," a style of housing meant for people on a small budget subscribing to a fast-paced, out-of-home lifestyle that's fitting for the urban environment. This fast growing contemporary style has its benefits:
  • Storage space is limited, so there is a lower propensity to over consume and due to the size of the plot.
  • The building is relatively simple and easy to maintain (a chore no city dweller wants to labor over).
The tiny house style is very much a result of the financial crisis from which cheap housing was in demand. The above tiny house, conceived by Jordan Pollard, Make It Right’s research, design, and development manager, will sell for under $100,000. Make It Right's shift from full-scale houses to these small-scale counterparts could be a response to tighter funding streams and budget constraints, The New Republic claims. According to New Republic, in 2013 the foundation also opened up its homes to buyers who didn't previously live in the neighborhood before Katrina, indicating troubles under the surface. As Make It Right's houses struggled to attract buyers, the under-populated area also failed to attract businesses, stores, and services. That meant the predominantly elderly population living in the ultra-modern houses designed by architects such as Shigeru Ban and David Adjaye were miles away from supermarkets and other necessities. Some locals have also protested the structures' contrasting designs. When speaking to Wired, New Orleans architect Mac Ball of Waggonner & Ball said: “all these new buildings don’t look like they fit New Orleans very well.” New Republic went further, describing the new builds as a "a field of pastel-colored UFOs." Affordable housing developer Brandon Dughman is taking a different approach from building new, instead targeting existing building stock. Recently Curbed covered how Dughman renovated an old shotgun house to tactfully create a new interior. Despite the old structure's failures, Dughman celebrated quirks such as the slanted floor and visibly old doorways. Here, he has shown how the structures of New Orleans' past can still be a versatile, viable and attractive place to live.
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Here are the three finalists in the ULI’s 2015 New Orleans–focused Hines Competition

As AN recently reported, the Urban Land Institute recently named four finalist in its 2015 Hines Competition to reimagine the Tulane/Gravier and Iberville neighborhoods in New Orleans: two multidisciplinary teams from Harvard University, one from Maryland University, and a joint team representing the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While four bold visions to reinvigorate the neighborhoods, only one could be crowned the winner and take home $50,000—and that winner is The Crossing by the University of Maryland team (see that project here). But here's a closer look at the three finalists. University of Wisconsin - Quartier Vert As AN reported:
The University of Wisconsin team drew up plans for Quartier Vert, a phased development that capitalizes on the many new projects slated to open soon near Tremé and Tulane/Gravier. A desolate stretch of Canal Street would become an “outdoor lifestyle community” with restaurants, a hotel, apartments, and a medical office. The team would also build a green infrastructure network with stormwater runoff channels, retention ponds, and bioswales."
Harvard University - The Grove As AN reported:
One of the two Harvard teams imagined turning the space underneath the interstate into the Grove, a linear park with “a vast canopy lattice structure” that spans below the roadway. This structure, built of locally salvaged wood, would channel rainwater into retention ponds, planters, and subterranean catchment basins. The full scheme, called Claiborne Grove, also realigns part of Claiborne Avenue to encourage slower driving and to create safer streets. New residential developments, finished in pastels, are intended to evoke New Orleans’ famous shotgun homes in color and form.
Harvard University - Treme 2.0 As AN reported:
Harvard’s other team presented Tremé 2, a scheme that caters to the city’s changing demographics. For newly arrived millennials, the team proposes Complete Streets to foster walkable and enticing neighborhoods. This would also include an “affordable trendy retail complex.” For the city’s baby boomers there would be easily accessible transit services and health services. A pedestrian network that has both surface-level and elevated pathways called The Parade is set throughout the 23-acre site. The students also present an idea called the Portable Plantation, which uses interior courtyard spaces for urban agriculture projects.
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On View> New Orleans’ neoclassical Gallier Hall washed in dynamic light for LUNA Fête

On November 30, the Arts Council New Orleans launched LUNA Fête, a large-scale, outdoor light and sound installation that can be experienced free by the public at Lafayette Square. The centerpiece of the event is a projection mapping display by French art group La Maison Productions that transforms the Crescent City's former city hall (Gallier Hall, 1853) into a neoclassical canvas. The nine-minute animated work plays on the columns and contours of the Greek Revival edifice with a richly layered spectacle inspired by the music and cultural history of New Orleans. La Maison Productions used four large projectors to animate the facade with its symbolically loaded and musically inspired motion graphics. The installation features an original score by Cyril Salvagnac. "This installation is very different from the other projection mapping installations we have created in the past, where we used more classical music with the graphic images," said La Maision Productions founder Sebastien Salvagnac, who worked on the project with creative imagery director Damien Fontaine. "The music of New Orleans inspired us to go in directions we had never tried before." Arts Council New Orleans commissioned the project and launched LUNA Fête to celebrate and promote the local art community. It is assessing the feasibility of making it a yearly event in the run-up to the city's 2018 tricentennial. The projection will take place twice nightly at 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. until December 6.