Posts tagged with "New Orleans":

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Video> A Cry for Modernism in NOLA

Filmmaker Evan Mather, one of the country's few architectural filmmakers, makes a viral appeal for Charles R. Colbert's Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans, which is set for demolition this summer. Appropriately titled A Plea for Modernism, the 12 minute short makes the case that buildings like Phillis Wheatley are disappearing throughout the Crescent City (watch the video after the jump). The school–owned by the Recovery School District and located in the historic neighborhood of Tremé–is one 30 schools in the city from the postwar Modernist Movement of the 1950s and 60s (only four of those schools still stand). New Orleans is also home to Moisant Airport, the Greater New Orleans Bridge, and other works by the likes of Goldstein, Parham & Labouisse, Modjeski & Masters, and Curtis & Davis.   A Plea For Modernism from Evan Mather on Vimeo. According to Francine Stock, President of Dococomo Louisiana and Visual Resources Curator at the Tulane School of Architecture, demolition is not only imminent, but definite. “Usually when an owner wants to demolish, there's nothing we can do,” said Stock. “They're determined to demolish.” The demolition date is unknown as the demolition contract is unassigned. However, Stock hopes the short will rally support for other modernist buildings on the chopping block: “We're doing what we can do.” Mather's other films include A Necessary Ruin: The Story of Buckminster Fuller's Union Tank Car Dome, which documents the demolition of another Louisiana Modernist masterpiece.
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Notes from the AIA: Product News

For those of you who missed the AIA Convention or spent most of your time in seminars (or eating gumbo in the French Quarter), here's a look at news from the exhibition floor: (Above) TOTO offered architects a mini-CEU in which they could wear a suit designed to simulate the effects of aging. Promoting universal design is part of the company's strategic partnership with the AIA. A new mesh cladding product called Texo created quite a buzz at the convention. The pre-stressed fabric paneling is a patented system designed by Milan-based Tensoforma and can be used as a secondary facade on new structures or on existing buildings with poor solar performance (panels can even be made with photovoltaic textiles). The company just launched in the U.S., so we're excited to see its first projects here. 3form's Advanced Technology Group presented its collaboration with ITAC, a building technology integration research group at the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning. The group designed a facade called CRATE made by using 3form Koda XT as a latticework to create various solar shading profiles. Duo-Gard unveiled plans for its new solar-powered car charging stations. The company's turnkey service includes in-house design, engineering, fabrication and installation services, plus field support on photovoltaics, inverters, and metering required to connect to the grid. (If building owners want to recoup the cost, credit card machines can also be installed.) Elevator manufacturer Schindler demonstrated its new "machine room-less" low-rise elevator design, which can fit into the footprint of a hydraulic elevator design but operates with energy efficient traction technology.
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Notes From the AIA: New Orleans Master Plan

While our recent feature on New Orleans highlights some of the more high-profile architectural and development projects in the city, yesterday we were introduced to the other half of the rebuilding equation: the New Orleans Master Plan, which is being developed by Boston firm Goody Clancy and New Orleans-based Manning Architects. At an afternoon panel, Goody Clancy principal David Dixon and Manning principal W. Raymond Manning shared their experiences creating a document that sets a new course for the city, from land use and transportation planning to environmental protection. "I haven't had a single boring day here," said Dixon, who dove head first into the city's labyrinth of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and even racial divisions to create the gargantuan still-evolving document. The plan includes creative elements like landscaped open canals and urban wetlands; practical ideas like making the building code more rehab-friendly,  promoting adaptive reuse and focusing on new creative districts; and tried-and-true principles such as promoting walkable, urban neighborhoods, planning for innovative new industries  and improving infrastructure. While some inside and outside New Orleans have  called for abandoning certain badly hit and vulnerable neighborhoods, the plan wholeheartedly endorses "accelerating the resettlement of under-populated neighborhoods." In some cases, said Dixon, that could mean major federal investments, which "could be repaid by most neighborhoods." Outside of implementing an overall planning culture in the city (which, for instance, had lacked a transportation planner until this year, Dixon said), perhaps the biggest issue that the plan addresses is the lack of communication between various rebuilding players. Dixon bemoaned one state-funded project that "removes the neighborhood" with a giant blank wall along the street. "It takes a real dialogue to get great urban renewal," said Dixon. "The plan is more about turning the switch across all types of government."
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Quick Clicks> Demolition Roundup and a Fortress, Too

Land's Literal End. A sprawling 25-room colonial mansion called Land's End on Long Island's North Shore has been torn down. Gothamist and Curbed link to a CBS video of the destruction of the house said to have inspired the decadence of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Fortress in Disguise. Shortlist found a house that can transform itself from a windowless cube of a fortress into a modern luxury mansion with the press of a button. The appropriately named Safe House was designed by KWK Promes architecture Treme Teardown. Preservationists in New Orleans are pushing to save the 1950s-era Phillis Wheatley elementary school designed by Charles Colbert from the wrecking ball. The Times Picayune reports that Tulane architects and a Treme actress are leading the call. The Urban 30. We're tickled to be named in OCU's list of 30 Best Blogs for Urban Planning Students! Renewal 2.0. The NY Times ran a recent story about the proposed rebuilding of Quincy, Mass. The public-private partnership would tear town most of the city's urban core and start over again with a massive roughly $1.5 billion project to create a new downtown. While the article doesn't articulate what would be lost, it does speculate on the size of the real estate gamble if the project falls through.
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7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development. The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance. But tearing these highways down also means new opportunities for developing valuable real estate and rehabilitating blighted land. The federal government awarded $16 million to replace a New Haven highway with pedestrian boulevards last fall, and other TIGER II funds to explore highway removal in the Bronx and New Orleans have also been issued. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. remarked, "We think this is a big f---ing deal." Decades after urban renewal programs first put up highways, most city planners now realize that highways drain vitality from healthy neighborhoods and lower property values. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway are two poster children for how highway removal can rejuvenate neighborhoods. The collapse of the Miller Highway in New York also made way for what’s now West Street and Hudson River Park.
BALTIMORE: Demolition of Baltimore’s infamous "Highway to Nowhere," a one mile stretch that ends in a grassy slope, began last fall. In 1974, construction sliced through a vibrant working class area of west Baltimore, demolishing 700 homes and displacing 2,000 residents, mostly African American. The area is now characterized by vacant homes and high poverty rates. President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded $2.8 million for the highway’s removal, which will make room for transit-oriented development.

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CLEVELAND: The only way to get from downtown Cleveland to the waterfront is through poorly lit tunnels underneath the West Shoreway freeway. NPR recently highlighted the city's plan to convert the highway into an urban boulevard, in line with efforts to develop the waterfront, but opposition from suburban commuters forced the city to scale back the project. The original proposal would have added crosswalks to the road, parks, offices and housing, while the actual project will just focus on rebuilding the pedestrian tunnels.

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NEW ORLEANS: Decades before Hurricane Katrina and getting its own HBO series, Treme was one of the wealthiest African American communities in New Orleans, and Claiborne Avenue was its teeming commercial center. The construction of the Claiborne Expressway in the 1950s changed all that, displacing families and over 100 businesses. City planners are currently debating removing the highway as part of post-Katrina rebuilding. The plan would reclaim 35-40 city blocks from urban blight and 20-25 blocks of open space.

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SEATTLE: A battle is raging in Seattle over the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The highway's coming down after sustaining damage in a 2001 earthquake, but the $4.2 billion tunnel slated to replace it by 2016 remains a political hot potato. The project is entangled in lawsuits, with critics seeking to vote on the project. Mayor McGinn came out against the Seattle’s political establishment in support of a street level replacement. He’s also pushing for removal of the Viaduct next year, citing the damage it would cause in an earthquake.

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NEW HAVEN: The city recently received a $16 million TIGER II grant to convert part of Route 34 into an urban boulevard. Residents envision a re-do with narrow car lanes, wide sidewalks and a bike lane. The plan will add 960 permanent jobs and reclaim 11 acres of land that can be developed and taxed. It will finally unite the city's central business district with the rest of New Haven, ending the highway's stifling effect on economic development. Built in 1959, the highway displaced 600 families and 65 businesses and was never completed.

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BUFFALO: After several multi-million dollar projects failed to slow Buffalo's decline, planners set their sights on removing two of the city's major highways. The Skyway and Route 5 make commutes more difficult, cost millions in annual maintenance and block waterfront development. The state Department of Transportation decided to keep the elevated roadways in 2008, even though local officials and residents wanted a street level boulevard. A coalition of citizens and civic organizations appealed the decision in 2008, and continue to advocate demolition.

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LOUISVILLE: In the opening scenes of Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst maps out Interstate 64 in Louisville for Orlando Bloom because "the roads around there are hopelessly and gloriously confusing." He gets lost anyway, banging his hands against his steering wheel and yelling "60B!" The Ohio River Bridges Project, a $4.2 billion plan to expand the highway to 23 lanes of traffic at its widest point, would make things even more challenging. In 2005, two Louisville businessmen launched a grassroots campaign to remove the highway and develop the waterfront with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. But it looks like the project's continuing with wider elevated lanes of traffic with some cost cut adjustments made in recent days.

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Hypothetical Buildings Coming to New Orleans

Every building tells a story of its past. But sometimes, with a little prompting, a building can also tell the story of its future. At least that's what the Hypothetical Development Organization hopes. The group, created in 2010 by author and New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker, examines what the future might hold for some of the hidden, and underused, architectural gems in New Orleans by creating renderings of what the buildings could be, you know, hypothetically. In a city that is still trying to piece itself together after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this is a creative way to draw attention to buildings that are being overlooked. Walker told the Huffington Post that he sees this project as something of a public service.
"If they're not going to be developed, then let's have fun with them," he said. "It's a pleasure-giving response to this crummy situation with the economy, where development isn't happening. But this is not mean or depressing -- it's joyous.
The Hypothetical Development Organization is planning a gallery show planned at the Du Mois Gallery in April 2011. There will even be a specially designed Hypothetical Development Trip, courtesy of Gowalla, which makes a travel-oriented app for smartphones.
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Five Years After Katrina, How Are the Levees Holding?

We are coming up on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week, and while such milestones are as manufactured as they are macabre, at least in this case it provides a helpful moment for reflection. Half-a-decade out, we seemed to have reached a great enough critical distance for a serious appraisal of what has and hasn't worked in terms of reconstructing the Crescent City. Documentarians and journalists are already weighing in, so why not the planners? The Brookings Institution released its 25th New Orleans Index earlier this month, the most comprehensive one yet, looking at everything from a rise in community engagement to a continued lack of medial care. There is an especially good essay, entitled "No More Surprises," about how the storm has actually brought a semblance of critical planning to the city. The Urban Land Institute recently held a conference to explore the progress of its plan and others for the city, where it parachuted in shortly after to begin mapping out a rebuilding process, and the Van Alen Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund are holding a similar round table, Project Eco Delta, next week at the Venice Biennale. We're sure there's bound to be more discussion, and we'd like to start one of our own, so share your tips and experiences in the comments below.
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NOLA Lights Up

For the last three years, AIA New Orleans has invited teams of architects and artists to takeover "hidden" spaces within the city, transforming them with the latest design tech and hopefully testing the boundaries of this at-times-ephemeral place in the process. One of installations at this year's DesCours comes from the Chicago team of Marshall Brown and Dana Carter. (Brooklynites may know Brown from his work on the anti-Ratner UNITY plan for the Atlantic Yards.) The duo has focused their gaze on the heavens, where they are harnessing the sun—through photovoltaic, of course—and transforming it for the weeklong nightly event into a constellation in no less a celestial place than Charles Moore's Piazza d'Italia. More illuminating photos after the jump, and if you happen to be in town for the event, let us know what you think about this or any of the other 13 projects.