The Question of New Orleans

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What sorts of design does disaster induce?10 What is the future of New Orleans?11 Why are the recollections of Katrina threatened with immediate effacement?15 Why aren’t people returning home in droves?18 Who is missing?20 Can science remove judgment from planning?22 What does the phrase ‘fluid dynamics’ mean?24 Who lives in public housing?26 What does the BNNOC Plan mean for neighborhood viability?28 What is the dollar disconnect?30 What is a landscape of information?31 What’s open on Canal Street?32 Will small business survive?33 How will we design new public schools for an unknown population?34 How can educational resources cultivate community action?34 How can we learn from 22 million tons of waste?36 What would an urban salvaging system look like?38 THE QUESTION OF NEW ORLEANS How can we use resource exchange to rebuild?40 Can suburbia survive?42 Can flexible space create a stable school?44 Will there be another?46 Can competition yield cooperation?48 Who gets to call school home?50 Can a public school be public space?52 How can wayfinding improve education?54 What do future educators think should happen in New Orleans?56 Floodable or Flood Proof?66 Could your house evolve from land to water?70 Should we move to higher ground?72 What if your house were safe from the storm?73 Could your values shape your home?74 Can infrastructure grow a community?76 What if your house were as sophisticated as your car?77


<2> Image produced by Spatial Information Design Lab, GSAPP, Columbia University and The Justice Mapping Center with The JFA Institute.

New Orleans, LIDAR elevation image.





Mississippi River

Levee Image produced by Spatial Information Design Lab, GSAPP, Columbia University and The Justice Mapping Center with The JFA Institute.

Florida Homes

Elevation Change Through Cross-Section

New Orleans, LIDAR elevation image with cross-section from Lake Pontchartrain through Ninth Ward to Mississippi River identified.



Lake Pontchartrain




TOPOGRAPHIC DEMOGRAPHY What does it mean for a city to look up to the river? In New Orleans, the topography of the city subtly organizes a social landscape—just as poverty is inversely proportional to topographic elevation, so are prison admissions. What relationship does this have to the politics of race, resettlement and the development of the city? And how will the new plan for the city reorganize the demographic and economic landscape?




There is no way to visualize the scale of the damage done by the massive storm, the endless horizon of physical, personal, social, and economic devastation. The event remains in a very real sense unbelievable. This renders all of our thoughts in response pathetically small. The role of the architect in the practical organization of everyday life in the United States is already minimal. When dealing with a vast infrastructural crisis of almost every level of our society, the architect seems even less useful and virtually irrelevant in the aftermath of disaster.. Yet it is precisely in the face of disaster that the greatest ambitions and responsibilities of the architect have always been mobilized. Indeed, it is only when the nature of a problem cannot really be grasped that the architect is brought in. Architects deal with the gaps in our understanding rather than the certainties. They are experts at facing an overwhelming jungle of overlapping incommensurable forces in a confusing situation and visualizing a form, a simple organizational figure that is seemingly able to accommodate all the forces. Buildings appear certain, stable, and solid in order to deal with that which is uncertain, unstable, and fragile. From the organization of a single house to that of a whole state, architecture is always erected in the face of imminent disaster. It is not just a form of practical resistance to danger, a system of protection offering shelter from many different kinds of storms. It is also a psychological response to the disasters of the past, a form of reflection on numerous dangers, embodying our collective fears but also our courage, our dreams. The architectural response to Katrina can both address the practical demands of the emergency and liberate society’s highest ambitions. The gift of the architect is to turn practical needs into cultural aspirations. Architecture is sorely needed in this storm’s wake. Furthermore, the storm was never simply a natural disaster, an outside force wiping away people and buildings. It was a sad calculated decision made over many generations. Indeed, it was a design. The event was itself architectural. It was no accident that the physical and social infrastructure did not have a robust shape. Architects were absent from the debate during the decades of orchestrated neglect and it is not clear that things would have been any better with their active participation. But a new kind of architect is urgently needed now. Katrina immediately revealed how inadequate our discipline currently is. Our best schools of architecture are not up to the task. We need to redesign our expertise. Despite the fact that the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University has a long tradition of being very actively involved on the ground at disaster zones (like the Avila mudslides in Venezuela, the Afghanistan battleground, and the slums of Nairobi), Katrina quickly exposed our limits. How could we help? With our generations of expertise, what could we offer? Within days of the hurricane, the School devoted itself to a yearlong series of conferences and workshops with a diverse range of experts, under the label “The Katrina Dialogues,” while launching some preliminary investigations on the ground in New Orleans, learning much more from others than able to offer anything in return. When the situation was better underArchitecture stood and the questions more focused, collaborative studio, seminar, and research lab investigations began on site. Analysis and design were given equal weight. A set of those studies is published here. The aim is simply to broaden Mark Wigley the terms of the debate. The suggestions are deliberately concise and multiple, and aimed at the general policy Dean, GSAPP, Columbia University debate rather than specific interventions, working towards the right questions rather than ready-made formulas. Other groups of architects have flown into the Gulf States carrying all the answers in their designer briefcases, seeing the devastated landscape as an ideal ground for rehearsing their favorite ideas, a place for utopian visions to rise heroically out of what seems to them to be a wasteland. In this flood of architects, images of social comfort and control are being eagerly sold as an all-purpose elixir that has been hastily packaged in marketing brochures. The GSAPP teams working in New Orleans have chosen to present their current thinking in the belief that a diversity of questions need to be asked by the architectural community to provoke the rich debate from which wiser choices can be made. Architects have much to offer New Orleans, and an ethical responsibility to do so. Their absence on the ground and in people’s dreams can no longer be tolerated. Their gift can be small yet unforgettable. The discipline shouldn’t pretend to offer comfort after so much pain, and especially not instant images of comfort. But it might be able to offer something ultimately much more important in helping people to think about the wider questions, the real sources of all the devastation in the first place, and the kind of architecture that might foster or follow significant changes to those conditions. That is the spirit in which these modest contributions to the national debate are offered here by a dedicated taskforce of our faculty and students. First steps in an urgent yet endless dialogue.

The work presented in this publication is the result of courses taught at Columbia University at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and Teachers College during the Spring of 2006 focusing on the questions of New Orleans, post-Katrina. The work covers three areas of research: mapping, public schools and housing. Throughout the semester we shared resources, networks and ideas. While we have included many proposals for rebuilding, the work is first and foremost a series of questions to be asked against the backdrop of what happened in New Orleans pre- and post-Katrina. Assumptions about the future of New Orleans created by plans and reports communicated through the media quickly seemed to become naturalized as fact, and we felt an urgency to respond by questioning the plans, reports and presumptions which were widely circulated and published. As we began work five months after Katrina, there was still no clear direction for clean up or for rebuilding. There were only competing proposals by the Urban Land Institute and the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, and also the political tensions between local, state and federal authorities. These documents, along with the extensive reporting on the aftermath (most notably by the Times Picayune) were our initial sources of information. Our collective goals were to expand the questions being asked about New Orleans within our collaborative and individual research. As part of the background research on New Orleans, we invited several guests with specific expertise on New Orleans to participate in a roundtable discussion with the students: Erin Ainger, Graphics Editor at the New York Times, Klaus Jacob, a Geophysicist and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; Lionel McIntyre, Director of the Urban and Technical Assistance Program at the GSAPP and a native New Orleans resident; Jim Dart, Architect, Professor at NJIT and native New Orleans resident, and Lynn Seirup, Geographic Information Specialist, CIESIN, Columbia University. The instructors and students involved in the work also spent time in New Orleans and had the opportunity to meet with many local experts on the issues surrounding rebuilding. We would like to thank Scott Cowen, President of Tulane University and Chair of the Education Committee for the Bring New Orleans Back Commission; Rich Campanella, Research Professor at the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at Tulane University and Assistant Director for the Center for Bio-environmental Research; Doug Meffert, Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River and Coastal Studies Division of the Earth and Ecological Sciences at Tulane University and Director of the Center for Bio-environmental Research; Reed Kroloff, then Chairman of the Urban Planning Committee for the Bring New Orleans Back Commission and Dean of the School of Architecture at Tulane; Lee Ledbetter, a local Architect; and Dan Etheridge, who gave us an extensive guided tour of many of the neighborhoods in New Orleans. In particular we would like to thank Mark Wigley for his support of these networked courses and for providing a context that makes it so necessary to ask the important questions rather than coming up with fast solutions. This work is still in progress and all our work has not stopped by putting these pages into print.



What sorts of design does disaster induce? This exploration post-Katrina New Orleans was conducted in order to produce a critical analysis of some existing architectural and urbanistic proposals for its reconstruction. What happened to New Orleans was a catastrophe, but not simply a natural one. It was also an opportunity, but not necessarily for the better. New Orleans now is a network of conflicting forces, demands, and discourses (economic, political, environmental, historical, memorial, mediatic, aesthetic), which situates the city into the context of other intensively politicized spaces (or intensely spatialized political events). What does New Orleans now have in common with Kabul after the Taliban, Sarajevo after ethnic cleansing, or New York after September 11? And what did New Orleans, prior to this disaster, have in common with riot-torn Los Angeles, the Occupied Territories, and apartheid South Africa? We mined some of these examples for tactical and strategic guidance, and then turned to evaluate some existing proposals for, databases about, and maps and images of a new New Orleans. To study the city, the seminar draws on and works with diverse sources of information, including raw data about population displacement and urban destruction (from FEMA), online popular forums (, publiclyavailable overhead imagery (Google Earth), and the reports and analyses of ‘expert’ bodies (Congress of New Urbanism, Urban Land Institute, Bring Back New Orleans Commission). We consolidated, interpreted, evaluated, and reformatted this information in a way that exposes some alternate images of New Orleans prior to the disaster, and presents new post-disaster visions of it – while there is still time left for alternate visions.

Environments of Design: New Orleans Now Laura Kurgan



“These projects seek to house a sense of community, attract attention and activity, and make the landscape visible. They propose a shared space, both physical and mental, around which the city could organize itself in a meaningful manner. And in so doing, they not only suggest an architecture for a Newer Orleans but also a potential way for making all of us at home in an increasingly alien world.” --Aaron Betsky, Artforum (March 2006) “To inhabit a house is usually to suppress its nightmares.” --Mark Wigley, “Recycling Recycling”

Integrating postwar cybernetics and Romantic landscape aesthetics, Ian McHarg’s Design With Nature outlined a physiological diagnosis of maladjustments between the human organism and its environment, a problem whose roots were deeper than any particular political or economic system. The pollution, decay and anarchy McHarg perceived in the American metropolis—and the sterility of car-centered suburbanization—were morbid symptoms of a fundamental misunderstanding about the place of man in relation to the “planetary superorganism” of the biosphere, a set of civilizational values whose “mancenteredness ensures that those processes, essential to man’s evolution and survival will be excluded from consideration.” Taking himself as the measure and master of things, man was putting at risk his own existence by forgetting his biospheric heritage: “Our phenomenal world contains our origins, our history, our milieu; it is our home. It is in this sense that ecology (derived from oikos) is the science of the home.” Informed by this sense of deep ecological memory, the designer could thus proceed to bring the built environment into a harmonious equilibrium with organic patterns, processes, and cycles of nature, making man a both the “steward” and a “co-tenant” of his terrestrial home. Aesthetically mediating between a diagram of systematic feedback loops and a phenomenological intuition of the “meaning” of life in all its fragile interdependence, Design With Nature reenvisioned human settlements not as self-contained concentrations of artificial structures, but as multilayered organisms interacting with larger regional ecologies. Anticipating contemporary GIS technology, McHarg overlaid existing urban maps with a remarkable array of color-coded datasets detailing the naturally occurring topographical, geological, hydrological, and biogeographical features of a particular region. Existing urban “forms” could thus be judged as to their “suitability” or “fitness” for the specific ecological configuration in which they were situated; on the basis of this visually dynamic knowledge, cities could thus evolve and adapt to their proper milieu, growing with, rather than against, nature. For McHarg, the stakes of this evolutionary process—the long-term survival of urban life itself-transcended the interested realm of politics; indeed social conflict—such as the ghetto rebellions of the late 1960’s-could only register as so much entropic “noise,” a breakdown in the homeostatic relay between social and environmental systems that would ultimately be resolved through a shift in the “ecological conscience” of urban planners Haunted Housing: and architects. Eco-Vanguardism and Design With Nature is widely acknowledged to have helped inaugurate the discourse of “sustainable Eviction in New Orleans development” some fifteen years before it was officially defined by the UN’s Our Common Future report as “development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to Yates McKee meet their own,” and subsequently adopted by figures such as William McDonough, whose “Principles of Design for Sustainability” calls for “a quality of life and place which depends on the protection...of our natural home, myriad species, and our own future generations.” Though it has long had had a canonical place in bibliographies of “green design,” McHarg’s work has taken on a new resonance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which has brought questions of environmental design and the life, death, and survival of cities to the forefront of the architectural discipline. While McHarg is not cited explicitly, his basic terms—and their depoliticizing implications—are everywhere evident in New Orleans: Strategies for a Soft City, the results of a studio and research project undertaken at the Harvard School of Design with the support of the Tulane Architecture department in the 2004-5 academic year but published in December 2006, three months into the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the lead essay, entitled “The Future of New Orleans,” editor Joan Busquets describes the project as “a complete reading of the spatial mechanisms at work in the transformation of the urban and territorial system of this singular deltaic space...Specific knowledge of the city will then help to interpret the process of giving it form, but above all it may contribute to understanding the why and how behind its reconstruction.” As the phrase “deltaic space” suggests, the book positions New Orleans within an expanded scale of regional and ecological processes, that are irreducible to—and indeed underlie—the physical structures of the city itself. Ecological expansion also means a historical deepening, a restoration of geographical and climatalogical memory that the city has lost. Indeed, the Katrina Disaster was much more than a case of poor engineering or governmental incompetence—it resulted from an arrogant, instrumental way of conceptualizing the relationship of city and river that failed to attend to the inherently fluid topography of deltaic space. In other words, the elaborate hydrological infrastructures built during New Orleans postwar expansion provided a false sense of security, ignoring the basic ecological dynamics on which the city was originally based. This “excessive faith in the mechanisms of engineering” resulted in “permissiveness in the urbanization of very low areas, such as the ninth ward.” “Above all” he writes, “the flooding of low-lying areas points to the problems caused by forgetting the city’s geographical conditions that cannot be overstepped and must be part of the urban order... The urban order must be governed by the geographical order.” In essence then, the hurricane demonstrated that the pre-Katrina city was poorly adjusted to its environment, and in its destruction lie the seeds of its “sublime rebirth,” giving it a chance at life based on a sustainable “dialogue” with nature rather than a defensive attempt to reverse its patterns and rhythms. Identifying and adapting to these dynamics requires historical reflection—no future without the past, in other words. The stakes of this task are significant for urbanism as a whole, especially for cities on terra firma which, says Busquets, “more easily lose the memory of their relation with the location and their seminal topography.” Busquet’s call for design to engage site-specific ecological memory may seem benign, but in its positing of a geography as the city’s evolutionary determinant, Busquets effaces the memory of those killed and displaced by the hurricane, vulnerability to which was unevenly allocated not only by topographic contingencies but by race and class, terms that are entirely absent from his analysis. Celebrating the city as the subject of a unitary historical trajectory, he writes “I do not intend to speak of the difficulties that occupied the city during the period of



emergency...I refer to the city’s urbanistic conditions and its intrinsic values.” Busquets brackets “the emergency” of Katrina as a finite “period” in the overall life of the city, isolating it from both historically inherited dynamics of pre-storm inequality, and the ongoing emergency of the displaced survivors. By treating Katrina as essentially a problem of what McHarg described as “Values, Process, and Form,” he evicts black New Orleanians from the realm of historical representation, a precondition for their permanent material eviction from the future of the city itself. Indeed, the studies in Strategies for a Soft City present New Orleans as if it were already depopulated before the storm had even struck. Busquets’s position is given a more dynamic theoretical elaboration by Ilya Berman in her essay “Fluid Cartographies and Material Diagrams,” which meditates on the inadequacy of conventional architectural procedures when confronted with the fluidity and indeterminacy of New Orleans topography. Against “the reifications of figuration” that would fix the city as a static thing, the projects outlined in Soft Cities partake of an “evolutionary process” within design itself, one that is informed by “the deep ecological milieu from which the environment of New Orleans emerged.” Yet rather than a purely bio-organic nature such as that imagined by McHarg, the “deep ecology” to which Berman appeals is understood in Deluzeian terms as a “rhizomatic fluvial matrix” that calls for radical diagrammatic strategies capable of layering and transcoding data and landscape, time and space, form and matter in experimental ways. For Berman, the diagrammatic is “interpretative, transformative, and performative,” a position she opposes to “critical claims that all is representation—(as the poststructuralists would have us believe that cultural knowledge always precedes and filters our readings of unmediated matter).” Berman thus positions herself as a kind of architectural activist, deploying both scientific and formal rigor to “disrupt habitual modes of envisioning the real” that “resist the ease of accessibility that accompanies images intended for simple consumption.” Yet Berman’s dismissal of “representation” should disturb us—for so-called poststructuralism, this term signals an ethicopolitical attention to the exclusions which govern the spaces of speech and response, the limits to who or what can appear at a given conjuncture, and in what ways. While motivated by a desire for justice, poststructuralism demands that we remain vigilant about our complicity in violence, even when engaged in the most conscientious of radical aesthetic or political endeavors. These are questions that Strategies for a Soft City, despite its eco-vanguardist vocabulary of vectors, fields, and rhizomes, utterly fails to ask, and so ends up defining the city as essentially “a floating sponge, a semi-stable ecosystem supported by an intricately entangled biomorphic fabric, a woven living matrix.” This definition is offered as “a backdrop to the current and future debates that will govern the rebuilding of New Orleans,” which can guard against “the reinstantiation of habitual typological realities and mute development which we already know are unsustainable within this environment.” Sustainability is thus understood as a question of aesthetic quality and formal suitability rather than, say, the allocation of environmental risk, spatial resources, and political power. In its rhetoric of biomorphism, however dynamically machinic it may be, Strategies for a Soft City forecloses any discussion of the biopolitical conditions of New Orleans, and thus unwittingly acquiesces to the designs of redevelopment elites such as Joe Caviar, the real estate mogul appointed by the mayor to chair the Urban Planning committee of the Bring Back New Orleans commission who notoriously remarked, “As a practical matter these poor folks don’t have the resources to go back to our city just like they didn’t have the resources to get out of our city. So we wont get all those folks back. That’s just a fact.” Significantly, Canizaro is the former head of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the chief think tank and advocacy group for New Urbanism, whose aesthetically traditionalist and suspiciously communitarian vision of the revitalized city is typically framed as the scourge of vanguard architecture, the enemy against which “advanced” practice would define itself. This position informs what has been perhaps the most prominent response by avant-garde architecture to the situation in New Orleans, a collection of six “visionary” proposals for the city published in the March 2006 edition of ArtForum in conjunction with the traveling exhibition “A Newer Orleans: A Shared Space.” Acknowledging their tacit unrealizeability in the current circumstances of the city, the projects are presented “in the spirit of possibility and in a long-standing tradition of collaborative, idealistic endeavors in the arts, which have in previous eras provided the germ of inspiration for public works.” Thus, unlike the scientistic agenda of morphological research laid out in Strategies for a Soft City, “A Newer Orleans” explicitly declares its aspirations to social relevance in the public sphere, a condition not unlike that of post-9/11 New York, when similar calls for “visionary” architecture were sounded in the name of healing and resurrecting the traumatized metropolis. In his introduction to the projects, Reed Kroloff provides a first-hand description of walking through the ruined landscape of an unspecified New Orleans neighborhood, which he characterizes as “spooky,” “ghostly,” and “almost dead.” “There’s nothing out there. No lights. No people. No police, no sound, no horizon, no hope.” Yet the pathos of this wasted, indeed terrifying landscape provides the background against which Kroloff can pose the revitalizing vocation of architecture. Accepting that “New Orleans is going to be a mess for a long time” he writes “this city needs bright visions to contrast with the bleak present that surrounds us...We need inspiration and innovation, glimpses into a promising and expressive future.” This visionary impulse is resolutely opposed to the New Urbanists, “who would have us believe our only future resides in the past” and who offer a “candy-coated dreamversion” of the city that Kroloff denounces as “quaint, predictable and market friendly.” Yet while Kroloff’s sounding the alarm about the “New Urbanist Svengalis” is laudable, it is imperative to think about why, how and in the name of who or what such forward-looking architectural declamations takes place, lest we reproduce the worst aspects of the very thing critical design—if there is such a thing—would claim to oppose. The stakes of this criticality—or lack thereof—become evident in an accompanying text by Aaron Betsky, which meditates on how architecture might contribute to the reenvisioning and reconstruction of the city. Unlike Strategies for a Soft City, Betsky frames his remarks by criticizing, in a certain way, the politico-economic dynamics of the city, writing “The situation in New Orleans is only an extreme instance of the quandary in which architecture in general finds itself—when the economic realities imposed on us by relentless market forces compel the proliferation of nonplaces leached of any individual or social meaning or coherence, how is architecture to respond?” Yet, echoing Berman’s claims to resist “habitual typological patterns” and Kroloff’s denunciation of



“the sugar-coated future” offered by New Urbanism, Betsky’s main objection to “market forces” appears to be that they threaten to reduce the aesthetic quality of urban “place.” Thus, the specific competence of architecture is to be defined in a kind of existential battle against the alienating privation of “meaning” and “coherence” from everyday life, a humanist ideologeme that still has surprising currency in contemporary aesthetic discourse. Betsky acknowledges the question of social housing, but writes that “the provision of adequate dwelling for the displaced is not an activity in which architecture can play a role beyond making sure the houses are safe and more or less aesthetically pleasing. Where, how much, at what price, and who will live there is currently being decided by politicians and no doubt real-estate interests.” While Betsky’s last point is in one sense true, he cynically takes the domination of the housing discussion by elites for granted, narrowly framing it as an unsavory technical part of the reconstruction process from which advanced architecture should be content to keep a distance. Rather than enter into the fractious, interested realm of politics, which he defines in advance as encompassing only professional politicians, rather than citizens and social movements, architecture should contribute its efforts to a higher end—namely, remaking the architectural image and landscape ecology of the city itself, which is to say, restoring “meaning” to New Orleans. Betsky complains that “no one seems to be asking why anybody would return to New Orleans in the first place. Every city needs its unique selling points and needs to attract investment. Old New Orleans was in decline. Katrina turned that gradual decay into catastrophe. Why would anyone come back?” Not unlike Busquets, Betsky sees the disaster as an opportunity for urban ecological “rebirth”: “New Orleans is now clearly, in all likelihood irrevocably, one of the worlds shrinking cities....What is interesting is the fact that nature is coming back in many of these areas...The vast voids left by deindustrialization and depopulation are turning back into forest and field...As cities still suburbanize, nature is returning into the inner city, and it can draw people back to these burned out cores...We believe these elements can also help New Orleans to transform itself into a successful Newer Orleans—a smaller, more compact, and more beautiful city that would use its natural setting and cultural heritage to enhance viable neighborhoods and attract both new businesses and new residents.”

Disavowing the unstable, contested status of terms such as “community” “heritage” and “landscape,” Betsky’s call for design to contribute to the envisioning of “a smaller, more compact, more beautiful city,” echoes with unqualified enthusiasm the basic terms not only of Canizaro and the ULI, but also the self-fulfilling forecast by the Rand Corporation released in April 2006 that half of New Orleans’ pre-storm population will not in fact return. Needless to say, in questioning such a forecast, one should not be glib about the massive obstacles facing the return of displaced people, or the serious ecological and infrastructural issues to be dealt with in low-lying areas of the city. The point is to recognize these as realms of political dispute and negotiation, rather than defer to them as demographic inevitabilities or matters of sheer technical expertise to which designers should defer. Yet this is precisely what Betsky does, and as a result he is happy to present among his “visionary” projects the “daring, even defiant” plan of Pritzker Prize recipient Thom Mayne/Morphosis to “return” some 75% of the metropolitan area to wetlands or parks. According to Morphosis, “Contraction can provide an opportunity to radically transform and improve an urban system,” and Katrina provides “an opportunity to refashion a sustainable metropolitan fabric to nurture its remaining residents.” Morphosis’ plan for a “Great Park” goes far beyond the ULI-designed Bring Back New Orleans commission plan unveiled in January, which was widely criticized for its projected “greenspacing” of poor black neighborhoods such as the Lower Ninth Ward. This unintentionally dystopian vision epitomizes the neoliberal dream of what the Center for Urban Pedagogy has called “The City Without A Ghetto,” which is to say, a city in which it is not the dynamics of ghettoization that have been eliminated but ghetto residents themselves. This dream, legitimized by an appeal to what McHarg would call ecological “suitability,” is the nightmare that haunts Betsky’s call for a “Newer Orleans,” which concludes as follows: “These projects seek to house a sense of community, attract attention and activity, and make the landscape visible. They propose a shared space, both physical and mental, around which the city could organize itself in a meaningful manner. And in so doing, they not only suggest an architecture for a Newer Orleans but also a potential way for making all of us at home in an increasingly alien world.” Betsky urges the “housing” of urban community, but only as an eco-phenomenological horizon in the weakly Heideggerian manner of Christian Norberg-Shulz rather than a political demand for a “Human Right to Housing,” and its corollary, the “right to return” declared by organizations such as the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association and the United Front for Affordable Housing Coalition. One form taken by these rights-claims has been the setting-up of a small tent-city or “Survivors’ Village” outside the barbed-wired premises of St. Bernard Public Housing Development, a housing project that like the majority of others in New Orleans has remained evacuated and boarded up since the storm despite suffering relatively little damage. In June 2006, HUD announced plans to demolish 5,000 such units of public housing in order to make way for “mixed-income” redevelopment, an ambiguous term which, left uninterrogated, has often served to justify programs of aggressive gentrification in the name of “de-concentrating” or “de-segregating” the urban poor, whether they be residents of public housing, Section 8, private rentals, or privately owned homes (each of which entails, it should be remembered, specific and differential levels of vulnerability to forces of displacement). Addressed to passing motorists, media outlets, and urban and federal authorities, Survivors Village is designed to “serve as a reminder...that public housing residents will continue to fight for the right to return to their homes.” As a performative intervention in the visual, architectural, and mnemonic landscape of the city, Survivors Village can be understood aesthetic claim on what Jacques Ranciere calls the “partition of the sensible”: “a delimitation of spaces and times, of the visible and the invisible, of speech and noise, that simultaneously determines the place and the stakes of politics as a form of experience. Politics revolves around what is seen and what can be said about it, around who has the ability to see and the talent to speak, around the properties of spaces and the possibilities of time.” Crucially for Ranciere, this partition involves those whose assigned part in society is to “have no part,” the surplus or remainder of the population whose grievances do not register as such for the agencies by whom they are governed, such as the hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents still displaced within the city and across the country. Thus, Survivors Village does not simply introduce new elements into a political space whose boundaries and rules are agreed-upon in advance—the liberal ideal of “communicative planning” in which different “shareholders” are seated around a common negotiating table—but marks the exclusions that underwrite



that space in the first place. Unsettling Betsky’s ideal of a “shared space” properly at home with itself, Survivors’ Village shows up as a shadowy apparition of the “old” New Orleans that haunts the imaginary of urban revitalization propounded in distinct, yet kindred ways by neoliberal gentrifiers and avant-garde architects alike. Faced with the quiescent and in some cases reactionary positions taken by the tendencies sketched thus far, what other modes of design practice might be invented in response to the ongoing aftermath of the Hurricane? The temporary, self-organized, and contestatory structures of Survivors Village would seem to have an obvious appeal for young designers informed by a neo-situationist desire to reposition their practice within the expanded networks of activist counterpublicity that have proliferated over the past decade in tandem with the movements of “the multitude” in the U.S. and abroad. But without diminishing the importance of witness-bearing tactics such as Survivors Village or the “solidarity not charity” program of the Common Ground Collective, it is crucial for designers not to fetishize them as figures of simple grassroots spontaneity, which could result in a failure to attend to the longer-term, larger-scale constraints, mediations, uncertainties and inequalities that mark the reconstruction environment in which social justice organizations are struggling to operate. Indeed, rather than visionary projections or on-the-ground protest, a crucial role for design may be to attend to the “architecture” of reconstruction itself, which is just as much a matter of bureaucratic agencies, financial flows, media images, scientific datasets and political claims as it is buildings, infrastructures, and territories. This would require a faithful yet critical engagement with two fields that avant-garde aesthetic discourse has left relatively under-theorized: planning theory and information design. As elaborated by Susan Fainstein and others, the first concerns the uncertain status of planning as a form of expertise concerned with the design and coordination of the built environment that must operate at the conflictual intersection of a) the dynamics of capitalist political economy, b) the techniques and agencies of urban governmentality c) a formally democratic electoral system, d) non-governmental claims for civic participation and social equity made by inhabitants, users, and in some cases evictees of the built environment. As elaborated by Edward Tufte, the second concerns the translation of various kinds of datasets—often of a technical or quantitative nature--into visual patterns, arrangements, figures, and formats that are cognitively accessible to non-specialized audiences. While according to Tufte the “form” in which data is presented crucially shapes its “content” and the way in which it is received, judged, and used, his aesthetic insights concerning figureground relations, the layering, differentiation, and arrangement of elements, and the use of color and typography are motivated a by transcendental imperative to clarify communication as much as possible in the interests of consensual “problem solving” in a rational public sphere. Without indulging in Ilya Berman’s vanguardist determination to “resist the ease of accessibility that accompanies images intended for simple consumption,” it is necessary to supplement Tufte’s utopian call for formal economy and public legibility with questions about who or what is authorized to produce “information” in the first place, according to what protocols, and in what ways it is mediated before, during, and after becoming an element in the articulation of a political claim. This means understanding specific visual-informational artifacts in relation to the stories that they implicitly or explicitly tell--and that are told about them--in the different institutional, technical, and discursive conditions that mark their appearance, whether this be a power point presentation delivered to a planning board, the website of a government agency, an evidentiary demonstration in a courtroom or press conference, a video documentary, a protest banner, or, indeed, a student publication from a school of architecture, planning and preservation. This set of questions concerning aesthetics and politics, representation and planning, space and technology, must inform a rethinking of environmentalism in contemporary design. Despite their different ideological inflections, the three dominant tendencies referred to above—diagrammatic biomorphism, New Urbanism, and visionary humanism—are united in their common failure to question the self-evident goodness of ecological terms, leading them to treat the city as an organism striving to be properly at home with itself and the world. This underwrites a vision of sustainability, survival, and futurity untroubled by history, understood not as a univocally shared heritage, whether cultural or biospheric, but as the traces and remainders of violence that mark the living present and prevent it from ever being fully itself. It is in this sense that “survival”—life marked by something other than life—can become a biopolitical rights-claim by the evicted that at once inhabits and displaces the sense of the term that comes to us from an ecologist such as McHarg, who called for “seeing ourselves in a non-human past, our survival contingent on non-human processes.” Informed by the principles of environmental justice developed by human rights movements across the world over the past fifteen years, the task of a new project of “sustainable design” would thus involve proactively addressing the conditions and agencies that continue to deny equitable access to vital ecological life-support systems such as housing, education, healthcare, and media while keeping watch over architecture’s own disciplinary proclivity for both domestication and eviction.



It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state...? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations...will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race. - Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia We must engage in memory warfare. – Michael Eric Dyson, Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster


When pondering the dilemma of what was to be done with the freed slaves, Thomas Jefferson realized quite quickly there would be a problem of memory. The continued hatred on the part of whites, and the continued trauma and anger on the part of blacks, would tear the country apart. The former slaves, Jefferson decided, could not be incorporated into the state, at least not with this possibility for what Houston Baker, commenting on Jefferson’s words, calls dangerous memory (2001:15) Either they would have to physically removed, or the memory would have to be erased. In the fury of images and ideas that circulated in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina broke on August 28, 2005, almost none of them have been for a memorial. One only needs to recall the heated debate over memorials that began immediately after the destruction of the Twin Towers to realize that such an absence is anathema in public memory in the United States. Why are the recollections of Katrina threatened with immediate effacement? Is this country stuck in Jefferson’s frame of mind, still believing that either mass displacement or the forgetting of pain and trauma is the only way for the nation to move on? What has been circulating in New Orleans now instead of memorials, and what memories are being deployed or erased in the current planning? What do these memories tell us about the future of New Orleans? Why are we allowing ourselves to forget this disaster? historical memory

In truth, the lack of a memorial proposal for New Orleans should come as no surprise. New Orleans history in general has been premised on three things: (1) a forgetting of its racialized history and tragedies, (2) a neglect on the part of the state to help its disenfranchised citizens, and (3) an incapacity to register both black pain and agency. This pattern has deep roots in New Orleans history. In his work Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, Eric Foner notes the 1866 New Orleans Massacre, where on July 30, a group of whites, trying to stop black enfranchisement, stormed the state legislature and, by all accounts, massacred those (both black and white, though with particular Specters of Katrina: vengeance on blacks) who supported the enfranchisement (1988:262-263). In a recent lecture at Columbia University Historical Reflections on (2005), Lionel McIntyre furthered this history by noting that General Grant, upon hearing of the massacre, wanted the Future of New Orleans to send troops in to ensure the process of Reconstruction. Congress, however, refused funding or the power to move the army, claiming that the funds and power were needed there in Washington. The blacks of New Orleans, McIntyre Avram Alpert pointed out, would have to fend for themselves. As Michael Ignatieff reminded us in a pressing piece in the New York Times Magazine shortly after Katrina, this was the same thing that happened some one hundred and forty years after Reconstruction, and only forty years after the Voting Rights Act: A contract of citizenship defines the duties of care that public officials owe to the people of a democratic

society. The Constitution defines some parts of this contract, and statutes define other parts, but much of it is a tacit understanding that citizens have

about what to expect from their government. Its basic term is protection: helping citizens to protect their families and possessions from forces beyond

their control... When disasters strike, they test whether the contract is respected in a citizen’s hour of need. When the levees broke, the contract of

American citizenship failed. (2005)

The state, which abandoned its duties to blacks in the South during Reconstruction, was once again absent when Hurricane Katrina struck. Ignatieff thus further reminds us that the cause of this absence is nothing surprising. He notes that an early victim from New Orleans had to stand up on television and say the fact that should already have been obvious: “’We are American.’” Ignatieff comments, “It may be astonishing that American citizens should have had to remind their fellow Americans of this, but let us not pretend we do not know the reason. They were black, and for all that poor blacks have experienced and endured in this country, they had good reason to be surprised that they were treated not as citizens but as garbage” (2005). Michael Eric Dyson furthered this point in his Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Among a number of important critiques in the work, Dyson notes how early media reports of the event called the New Orleans victims “refugees,” instead of evacuees, marking them as foreign to this country. Writing of criticisms of this term, Dyson notes that “Black folk felt that they had already, for so long, been treated as foreigners in their own land. We desperately sought to claim the rights and privileges that our bitterly fought-for membership in the society should provide” (2006a:176). Hence Jesse Jackson called the term, “inaccurate, unfair, and racist,” and even President Bush felt obliged to state, “These people we’re talking about are not refugees. They are Americans.” Dyson further notes that this incapacity to register blacks as citizens exists not only in a concrete history, but also in our historical memory and imagination. He writes that “black grief and pain have been ignored throughout the nation’s history” (24). Moreover, he cites the work on historical memory by historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage, who stated, “Southern white historical memory exalted white civilization, legitimated white power, and virtually excluded any admission of meaningful black agency in the region’s past” (2005:99). It is in this historical context that what Dyson (2006b) calls the “forgetting of Katrina” is taking place. The poverty as well as the agency of New Orleans’ most downtrodden is being erased. This forgetting fundamentally informs the neglect of the tragedy in the present planning for New Orleans. present memory

In 2005 the Mississippi Renewal Forum put out A Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods. Though not directly for New Orleans, the Pattern Book is part of a general attempt to set standards for how to reconstruct the Katrina affected area, of which New Orleans is a key component. In the introduction to the report, Mississippi’s governor Haley



Barbour writes that “we are compelled to rebuild the Coast in a time-honored way.” The Pattern Book, he writes, is part of this project. It offers, “general direction for character retention that should be used in both renovation, as well as new construction opportunities.” Following the history of New Orleans, however, we might wonder about what exactly this “time-honored way” is, and what sort of “character” we are hoping to retain. Indeed, the Pattern Book is much less the bountiful resource that Barbour claims it is, and much more a project of whitewashing architecture and history. The book, after all, offers scant information on flooding, disaster protection, or anything of the like. Rather, it shows a series of neighborhood, architectural and landscape patterns that are full of “ornament...grandeur...and the gracefulness of a cornice detail that tell us where we are – and who we are” (A-1) Such details, however, are certainly only part of “we,” if “we” excludes the poor, predominately black citizens who were affected by the storm. Of what use is a book with instructions like “Step 1: Identify Neighborhood Type and Character...Step 2: Identify Appropriate House Types....Step 3: Identify Appropriate Architectural Character,” for those whose neighborhood type is a 1960s style modernist ghetto? Such neighborhoods are erased from the history that is told in the Pattern Book. Instead it speaks of the Gulf Coast as having:

[A] remarkable collection of distinct and unique places, each with its own individual and inherited traditions. The a result of many

factors including the rich mix of cultures, the sub-tropical environment, and the migration of people from many parts of the world. Since the earliest

settlements of the French, Spanish, and English colonists, this mix of traditions has been evident in food, music, literature, and language, as well as

architectural and urban patterns. (B-4)

As in Brundage’s and Dyson’s arguments, it is quite clear that the white Southern historical imagination can register neither black suffrage nor agency. Slavery and perpetuated poverty as trauma as well as constitutive element of Gulf culture is completely erased from the history that the Pattern Book tells. The book, rather, seems to be caught in a Gone with the Wind style romanticization of a past that never was nor could have been. A competing vision of New Orleans memory is offered by the plan developed by the Urban Land Institute (ULI). From November 12-18, 2005, ULI toured the city, interviewed residents and held a town hall meeting to develop a guide for the reconstruction of New Orleans. In their presentation, no mention is made of the racial or class backgrounds of their interviewees or attendees of the meeting. The stated aim of their coming is to “develop a rebuilding strategy for the City of New Orleans” (2005:4). Their presentation opens with a quote from President Bush: “...[A]ll who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.” Again, exactly what aspects of the city or in what sense and with what guarantees of justice it will return is far from specified. The President himself was far more progressive than the planners when he stated, in his first “Address to the Nation” after the hurricane, “As all of us saw on television, there’s also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.” Such an idea of confronting this history seems to have disappeared from the city’s future landscape. Consistent with this disappearance, the plan lays out some general recommendations, and only engages the history of the city through map-making. An analysis of these maps is essential to understanding what history (and, hence, what future) is being produced by their plan. The first map in the presentation is an interactive one that shows the changes in the areas of development of the city over time. The map again has no demographic data on race and class, and simply shows the spread of the city farther out into the wetlands through the past few centuries, and in particular in the last fifty years. Other maps in the project show the changing environment surrounding New Orleans throughout time. These maps are no doubt correct in showing the dangerous transformations in the nearby landscape. Again, however, they lack any sort of pertinent demographic data to suggest which citizens are most at risk form these changes. Moreover, they set up a framework of environmentalism divorced from concerns of justice, which, as we shall see, is a large part of the plan developed by the Bring Back New Orleans Commission. This lack of demographic information continues throughout the maps presented in the ULI presentation. Development areas are specified without giving any sense of who is currently living there or what will be done with these people when new development takes hold. As in the Pattern Book, the maps of the ULI plan whitewash the historical present of New Orleans, and project an image of a town without race or class problems when, as we know, this is anything but the case. The misguided mapping of the historical present is again firmly pronounced in the first draft of the proposal by the Bring Back New Orleans Commission. This is again most obvious in its production of maps. The Commission is the official New Orleans rebuilding body headed by Mayor Ray Nagin. It produced its first report on January 11, 2006, entitled “Action Plan for New Orleans: The New American City.” The plan was formed by a design made by Philadelphia based landscape architecture firm Wallace, Roberts and Todd. Perhaps not surprisingly, the report also begins with the same decontextualized quote from President Bush. The presentation also opens with a historical map that shows the pattern of deep flooding over time. Equally, again, no demographic data is part of this map. The plan perhaps became most controversial because of one of its maps that was leaked to the Times Picayune the day before it was set to be announced to the public. In the version leaked to the paper, a series of full green circles (representing new, open, green spaces) covered entire swaths of what was, before the storm, fully occupied residential land. Again, no demographic data was posted to show who or what was going to be displaced by these parks. And the circles were not all. Neighborhood residents were placed in a quintessential catch-22. They were not told that they were allowed to return home or under what conditions they would be allowed to rebuild. At the same time, they were told that in order to be allowed to rebuild their neighborhoods had to prove viability by having fifty percent of their residents return within six months. This impossible bind continued the refusal to acknowledge the history of injustice and only served to reproduce the neglect of the state that has haunted the poor of New Orleans. The first response of the planners was – amazingly – only to change the full circles into dotted lines. This did not exactly calm people’s fears that they would not be kicked off their land. As such, in the most recent plan, released March 20, 2006, Mayor Nagin went against his commission’s recommendations and removed both the green parks and the demand for proof of viability. Now he is saying simply, “Rebuild, but at your own risk... Now, if you go in



those areas, God bless you. We’ll try to provide you with support as best we can. But understand we’re concentrating city resources in the areas that are in the immediate recovery zone.” Nagin’s new plan still fails to register the history of the sites he is describing. They are specifically marked by a lack of state aid, by a history of neglect and disenfranchisement, and by a refusal to acknowledge their importance in constituting the very city they are about to be wiped out of. This is not to engage in a sentimentalism that denies the practical environmental concerns. Rather, it is to suggest that it is the role of the state to help its most downtrodden citizens, not make them the last consideration in a plan that will most deeply affect their future. By denying history, the plans and maps of the present in New Orleans have denied a just future to the city’s numerous underprivileged residents. future memory

Specters are haunting New Orleans – the specters of injustice, racism, and forgetting. New maps, new plans, new ways of thinking about New Orleans’ past must be mobilized before the future succumbs to this forgetting. In between the past and the future, exile and return, life and death, presence and absence, emerges the figure of the specter, embodied by the disavowed and forgotten citizens of New Orleans whose traumatic removal haunts the contemporary urban space. Jacques Derrida has written movingly and presciently of this figure of the specter. As Pheng Cheah explains Derrida’s work, “In each and every instant, we live only in and through the possibility that in another instant, perhaps the next, we might die...[Thus] each time we have survived into the next moment...we are grateful, but also anxious because this may already be a surfeit of life, and we don’t know whether it will occur again” (2003:389). He then quotes Derrida from Specters of Marx: And the more life there is, the graver the specter of the other becomes, the heavier its imposition. And the more the living have to answer for it...The specter weighs, it thinks, it intensifies and condenses itself within the very inside of life, within the most living life, the most singular (or, if one prefers, individual) life. (1994:109) In New Orleans we received the gravest of warnings that we hover between life and death. The image of the specter is akin to the image of the forgotten citizen, as they equally signal both presence and absence, both life and death, both a past slipping away and a future yet to be realized. In opening New Orleans up to the memories that are haunting it, we must recall this weight of life, the pressing need to be responsible to the living, to ensure that the specters of Katrina impress upon us the need to remember the precious gift of life, in each individual house rebuilt, in each citizen, in each new memory projected onto public space as against the forgetting of disaster. works cited Baker, Houston. (2001) Critical Memory: Public Spheres, African-American Writing, and Black Father’s and Sons in America. Atlanta: University of Georgia Press.

Bring New Orleans Back Commission. (2006) “Action Plan for New Orleans: The New American City.” Designers: Wallace, Roberts and Todd. Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. (2005) The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory. Cambridge: Belknap Press. Cheah, Pheng. (2003) Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation. New York: Columbia University Press. Davis, Mike. (2005) “The Struggle Over the Future of New Orleans.” Socialist Worker On-line. 23 September. <> Derrida, Jacques. (1994) Specters of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International. Trans. Peggy Kamuf. New York: Routledge. Dyson, Michael Eric. (2006a) Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Politics of Disaster. New York: Basic Books. ----. (2006b) Dialogue on new book with Craig Calhoun at New York University. 06 March. Foner, Eric. (1988) Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution: 1863-1877. New York: Harper & Row. Ignatieff, Michael. (2005) “The Broken Contract.” New York Times Magazine, 15 September: p. 15. McIntyre, Lionel. (2005) Lecture: “Race, Class and the Politics of Katrina.” At the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Columbia University, 28 September. Mississippi Renewal Forum. (2005) A Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods. Introduction by Governor Haley Barbour. Designers: Urban Design Associates. Urban Land Institute. (2005) PowerPoint Presentation: “A Rebuilding Strategy: New Orelans, LA.”



On the morning of August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast of the United States. While the powerful bands of the storm cast debris widely across the Gulf Coast, the disaster would scatter its victims even further. Hurricane Katrina would leave hundreds of thousands without homes, neighborhoods, and for many, without a city. February 28th, 2006 marked the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. While some were able to return, thousands remained stranded throughout the country. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was able to deploy more than 84,000 travel trailers and mobile homes throughout the Gulf Coast states by this time, the process was far from smooth, and countless victims were still without temporary housing. In February, a small news item on FEMA’s website hinted at the tense situation surrounding the provision of temporary housing: “FEMA mobile homes staged in Arkansas are habitable, available and properly maintained…We had hoped for a better reception in the State of Louisiana, in particular, for mobile home parks to be located in those parishes outside floodplains, and we continue to await the needed authorities to move them in.” The item presents a paradox: if temporary housing was available, why wasn’t it reaching the victims of the storm who remained scattered across the country awaiting the chance to return home? municipal vulnerability to population displacement

Why aren’t people returning home in droves? Joseph McGrath

In order to stimulate discussion about disaster policies, and to potentially guide future recovery plans, a method is presented here in an effort to determine an area’s ability to recover from a disaster. Combining what we know about the current weaknesses in the policy framework surrounding temporary housing with data for a given city, perhaps we can begin to identify those areas most in need of pre-disaster planning for post-disaster recovery. Thus, based on the disaster recovery literature and interviews with emergency management officials, a number of population, housing stock and land use characteristics were identified to help estimate vulnerability to population displacement. An index, defined here as the Municipal Vulnerability to Population Displacement Index (MVPDI), offers an approximation of the vulnerability a particular area within a city, relative to other areas. The more vulnerable a an area is, the higher the MVPDI score, and thus the more difficult it will be for that area to recover from a significant population displacement. For example, an area with a large elderly population living in unreinforced masonry construction would receive a much greater overall MVPDI value compared to a wealthy area of a city with its population living in sturdier homes. The index is evaluated using a number of variables falling within two different characteristics: 1) demographic variables, and 2) housing stock & land use variables. All data is derived from the data used by FEMA in their HAZUS-MH software program for estimating potential losses from disasters (FEMA’s data is based on the 2000 census). Demographic Variables: Total population; Children (<16); Elderly (>65); Female population; Low-income (<$20,000); School enrollment Housing Stock & Land Use: Rental units; Vacant units; Population in manufactured housing, temporary lodging, institutional dormitories, and nursing homes; Marginally engineered or non-engineered wood structures; Marginally engineered or non-engineered masonry structures; Average home value; Average rent approaches for evaluating a city using the mvpdi

Any number of variables can be used to determine an MVPDI. I present four different approaches for New Orleans. In Approach 1, only data for low-income populations and rental units - two variables cited most often by researchers - is used. Low-income segments of the population may not have sufficient resources to afford the likely delays in the relief process, and may be forced to relocate to find other employment in the interim. Similarly, an area that is made up mostly of rental units may be more vulnerable, as renters have been shown to have a more difficult time finding additional affordable rental stock in areas adjacent to employment or social networks. In Approach 2, only the demographic variables are used. In Approach 3, only the housing stock and land use variables are used. Approach 4 presents the MVPDI combining all variables.

Approach 2: Demographic Variables

Approach 1: Low-Income & Rental Units 0.00-0.02










mvpid analysis of new orleans

The MVPDI maps presented here for New Orleans indicate a fairly high level of vulnerability to population displacement. The first map is the least intense, and perhaps reflects the city’s high levels of home ownership. When demographic variables are used in Approach 2, the map begins to grow in intensity. However, the highest level of vulnerability is seen through Approach 3, which may indicate the susceptibility of many structures to damage and the few available units that the population would likely have to return to. Perhaps heightened awareness of such vulnerability to population displacement in New Orleans could have led to increased planning for post-disaster recovery efforts such as temporary housing. The MVPDI analysis as presented here is meant to show an area’s vulnerability to population displacement, given the current policy framework for the provision of temporary housing. Thus, we would hope that, as plans and policies improve, the number of relevant variables regarding vulnerable populations and housing characteristics would decrease. In other words, a city with a robust and exhaustive post-disaster recovery plan would show very little vulnerability using the MVPDI analysis, despite the city’s risk to particular hazards. While such an ideal is likely impossible, the MVPDI analysis is meant to show how vulnerable our cities are given the current problems in our disaster relief system, and to increase the salience of such issues among planners, emergency management officials, policymakers, as well as the general public. “with hammer and nails” In the wake of the massive population displacement following Hurricane Katrina, the RAND Corporation was asked by city leaders in New Orleans to prepare a report to estimate the future population of the city. A few months later, with victims still stranded throughout the nation, RAND released their results in a paper titled “The Repopulation of New Orleans After Katrina.” According to the authors, “[t]hree years post-Katrina, we estimate that the New Orleans population will reach about 272,000—about 56 percent of the pre-Katrina population.” In addition to this grave prediction for the future of the city, the authors argue that “[h]ousing is likely to be the main impediment to the rapid return of former residents who want to move back to the city…Although temporary housing, such as trailers, may provide an interim solution for some people, they are unlikely to be a panacea for the overall housing problem that New Orleans faces.” Temporary housing is not a panacea to cure all the problems in a city as severely devastated as New Orleans. Over a thousand people lost their lives. Tens of thousands of homes have been tossed from their slabs. The city’s levee system is far from fully operational with another hurricane season rapidly approaching. Hundreds of thousands of people still remain scattered throughout the country. However, no recovery is possible if residents cannot return to a city to begin repairing their homes. Temporary housing is not a cure-all remedy, but it is a crutch that will allow a wounded city to get back on its feet again. Despite the strength of the storm and the severe failures of the response effort, it was nearly impossible to break the will of those determined to see a city like New Orleans survive. Elsie Walker, a New Orleans resident who has lived in the same home in the Broadmoor neighborhood for 16 years, says that while the area is far from fully-functional, it is coming back to life and she fully intends to rebuild. According to Walker “a lot of people would be here with hammer and nails to help” if they could simply get the temporary housing necessary to move back into the city. Despite her hardship, she believes she is quite fortunate, as so many victims have simply been “stopped cold in their tracks.” She has been able to get back to the city and begin reconstruction. According to Walker, “New Orleans is far too good to hear, too good to eat, too multi-colored to just scrap it. Who would ever say that?”

Approach 3: Housing Stock & Land Use Variables

Approach 4: All Variables 0.26-0.34










who is still missing from hurricaine katrina? The Louisiana Department of Health of Hospitals collaborates with State and Federal agencies to identify, reunite and provide up-to-date listings of missing and found Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita victims from Louisiana. Withholding the names of the victims who are still missing is necessary for the protection of privacy. However, should someone correlate a point on the map with the area where a missing loved one had lived, the website and call center phone number are available to find that person confidentially. find family national call center

The Call Center was established on September 7, 2005, and is open seven days a week from 8am-8pm CST. The Call Center is a national collection point based in Baton Rouge, LA and is staffed by professionals experienced in forensic medicine, mental health, pathology and IT to help reunite families and locate and recover the remains of loved ones. Callers to the Center are asked to provide a physical description, medical contact information, a medical history including any dental work or joint replacements and whether their loved one had any unique characteristics such as tattoos, scars or birthmarks. Family members may be asked to provide dental records. All information gathered will remain confidential. The Center is a joint effort between the State of Louisiana, FEMA and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Also, the Center will cross-reference the collected data with other databases and coordinates with the Salvation Army, Louisiana Nursing Home Association and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to identify people.In addition, when someone calls to report a loved one who is still missing, the Call Center will provide a listing of other web resources that the caller may check for postings concerning the missing person. Many websites maintain a list of survivors; however the guidelines for posting information are far less stringent than when the DHH posts missing people. Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness provides a summary of information resources in the event of hurricanes and natural disasters that affect the state. It includes links to evacuation maps and phased evacuation schedule, active hurricane maps and forecast advisories, disaster assistance, parish offices, and state agencies.

Who is missing? Megan Kelly-Sweeney, Jiangqiao Tan missing persons by race

missing persons by sex

African American









victime identification center (vec) The FEMA-led Department of Homeland Security agency is responsible for processing, identifying, storing and releasing human remains found after the hurricanes. Forensic data such as fingerprints, x-rays, and dental records obtained from VIC are cross-referenced against data collected from calls to the Find Family National Call Center. Following the positive identification of the body, the parish coroner must sign the death certificate whereby the state medical examiner will then authorize the release of the body to the funeral home chosen by the next of kin. The facility began processing human remains in Carville, LA on November 29, 2005. Following the success of identifying most of the found human remains, the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team closed down the Victim Identification Center on March 1, 2006. louisiana department of health and hospitals

In addition, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has been authorized to provide medical oversight to both the Find Family National Call Center and the Victim Identification Center. source

to report missing people call toll free:


missing persons by age

Age 0-19

Age 20-39

Age 40-59

Age 60-79

Age 80+



an attempt at rational planning

In his essay, “A Proposed Reconstruction Methodology for New Orleans,” Richard Campanella (2005) outlined a planning methodology whereby one could deduce a new New Orleans. “The methodology is based on one overriding principle – that the best decisions are based on solid, scientific data rather than emotions or politics – and tries to balance four fundamental (and sometimes) conflicting values” (emphasis in original). Campanella’s suggestion has understandable appeal. It implies that we can conclusively find a “fair” and “right” answer for New Orleans’ politically contentious reconstruction. It implies that through science we can remove politics, heartbreak, and bias from the planning process and simply solve for x. Campanella’s methodolgy suggests that, by relying on clear mathematics, good data may be all we need for objectivity and objectivity may be all we need for fairness. This suitability study is modeled on Campanella’s proposal. His four criteria (environmental safety, historic significance, returning populations, and structural safety) are intentionally the four criteria used here. However, identifying and weighing four criteria does not create a plan, because “value in planning settings comes in plural forms – some quantifiable, some obviously not” (Forester 1999). Decisions – value judgments – must be made: Whose “history” defines historic significance? Are the wishes of returning residents as important as environmental safety? To which datasets can we gain access? Whose data do we trust? Our attempts at this methodology reveal the necessary but typically overlooked subjectivity inherent in a quasi-scientific planning process. The critical examination of any reconstruction plan requires considering the plan as a representation of its planners’ values. In total, we have produced 27 new New Orleans (3 series of 9 iterations), and each city has been different from the others. They range from preserving only the historic city to rebuilding for 400,000 people. The three series vary in their data sources, and the final series New New Orleans v 3.X is presented here to demonstrate the variety of cities resulting from differences in priorities.

172,273 people

Can science remove judgment from planning?

40.5% white

Leah Meisterlin, Clare Newman


lake pontchartrain

jefferson parish

st. bernard parish


Do Not Develop Develop with Caution Develop

st. bernard parish

$33,180 median household income



NNO v3.1 Prioritizing Population Return

environmental safety

40% RETURNING POPULATION ESTIMATES 20% Structural Safety 20% Environmental Safety 20% Historic Significance

311,678 people

30.4% white

returning population

structural safety

$32,414 median household income

392,232 people NNO v3.2 Highly Prioritizing Population Return

historic significance


50% RETURNING POPULATION ESTIMATES 16.7% Structural Safety 16.7% Environmental Safety 16.7% Historic Significance


31.3% white

NNO v3.3 Prioritizing Structural Safety 40% STRUCTURAL SAFETY 20% Returning Population Estimates 20% Environmental Safety 20% Historic Significance


74,555 people 48.0% white

NNO v3.4 Highly Prioritizing Structural Safety

new new orleans v3.x

50% STRUCTURAL SAFETY 16.7% Returning Population Estimates 16.7% Environmental Safety 16.7% Historic Significance


58,282 people 53.3% white

NNO v3.5 The Four Criteria and New New Orleans are defined by their data sources: 1. Environmental Safety is determined by the areas of pre-Katrina FEMA-designated floodplains.

Prioritizing Environmental Safety 40% ENVIRONMENTL SAFETY 20% Structural Safety 20% Returning Population Estimates 20% Historic Significance

2. Historic Significance is defined by the National Register of Historic Places’ recognized historic districts and places. 3. Returning Population estimates are given by zip code as projected by GCR for the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park, Advanced Technology Center, 2005. 4. Structural Safety of existing post-Katrina buildings is based on the extent and depth of Katrina flooding and the number of unengineered wood homes per census block. Both data sets are available through FEMA. 5. New New Orleans v3.X is described on the right using 2000 Census data pertaining to different versions of the developable city (marked in green), approximated by block group.


9,874 people 45.8% white $49,707

NNO v3.6 Highly Prioritizing Environmental Safety 50% ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY 16.7% Structural Safety 16.7% Returning Population Estimates 16.7% Historic Significance

3,199 people 85.8% white

NNO v3.7 Prioritizing Historic Significance

$32,282 213,465 people

40% HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE 20% Environmental Safety 20% Structural Safety

32.7% white

20% Returning Population Estimates

NNO v3.8 Highly Prioritizing Historic Significance 50% HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE 16.7% Environmental Safety 16.7% Structural Safety 16.7% Returning Population Estimates

256,707 people

32.7% white




Persistent flooding of New Orleans should be considered on a regional scale. Historically, federal and local Mississippi River policy is interconnected with social policy and demographic migrations. The majority of Mississippi River policies have been reactive rather than proactive. History shows that any plan for New Orleans should be part of a larger comprehensive Mississippi River Plan within the context of a proactive Federal Policy.

What does the phrase ‘fluid dynamics’ mean? new orleans

new orleans

new orleans

1735-1844 Levees

1882 Flood

Laura Shifley, Tse-Hui Teh

Pre-1735 Levees Source: Cowdrey, A. Land’s End: A History of the New Orleans District 1977

In planning and design, New Orleans is working out to be a crime novel... in this one, no one wants to declare the crime; they just keep picking up the evidence. -Lionel McIntyre 1748 Developed Lands

Oral History Map

19 8

MT montana MT montana Source: US Historical Archive Source: Professor Lionel McIntyre Interview: 13 March 2006 montana MT montana MT mont MT montana MT montana ND MT north dakota ND north montana MT montana MT dakota mon ND north dakota MT montana MT montana ND MT north dakota ND north montana MT montana MT dakota montana ND north dakotaMN minnesota MT montana MT montana ND MT north dakota ND north minnesota MN nsin WI wisco montana MT montana MT dakota monsouth NDdakota north dakota SD SD south MN minnesota WI wisconsin WY wyoming MT WYmontana wyomingsouth WY dakota SD south minnesota MT montana MT dakota MN nsin WI wisco orleans parish boundary wyoming WY wyoming WYSD wyoming south dakota SD south MN minnesota WI wisconsin orleans parish WY wyoming WY wyomingsouth WY dakota SD south minnesota dakota MN nsin WI wisco boundary wyoming WY wyoming WYSD wyoming south dakota SD south MN minnesota MN wisconsin WI WY wyoming WY wyomingsouth WY dakota SD south minnesota dakota nia PA penn nsin WI wisconsin IA iowa IAMN iowaIA 00 20 wyoming WY wyoming WYSD wyoming south dakota SD south NE nebraska NE nebraska pennsylvan IL illinois WIwisconsin WIIL iowa IA iowa IA iowa canal street 0WY wyoming WY wyoming WY nebraska NE nebraskaIANE illionois ill IN indian OH ohio OHnia ohPA penn iowa IA iowa IA iow IL ana wyoming WY wyoming WY wyoming NE nebraska NE nebraska pennsylvan IL illinois ILINi indianaohio IN OH ohio O iowa IA iowa IA iowa -6 0 historic centre 50 WY wyoming WY CO wyoming WY nebraska NE nebraskaIANE colorado CO OH ohio OHnia ohPA penn ill IN indiana 19 iowa IA iowaIAillionois IL ana NEcol nebraska NE nebraska colorado CO MOIAmissouri MO pennsylvan IN OH ginia ohio O we IL illinois ILINil indianaohio WV iowa iowa IA iow nebraska NE nebraska NE CO colorado COKS kansas KS kansas missouri MO miss illionois IL ana illi IN indiana OH ohio west OH oh virginia colorado CO colkansas KS kansas KS MOkan missouri MO IL illinois il indiana ohio IN KY OH ohio WV O we ginia kyILIN KY kentucky kentucky CO colorado COKS kansas KS kansas KS MO miss missouri indiana illionoisentucky IL ana ill INKY kentucky west virginia colorado CO cokansas KS kansas KS MOkan missouri MO m kyILIN IN KY kentucky VA virginia IL illinois il indiana ginia WV we KY kentucky CO colorado COKS kansas KS kansas KS MO missouri missouri illionoisentucky IL ill KY kentuckynia KYVA virginia colorado kansas KS kansas KS MOkan missouri MO miss mexicoCO OKcooklahoma OK oklahoma OK linakentucky NCvirginia north IL illinois ILKY kentucky VA KY TNky tennessee TN tennessee missouri MO missouri ico NM new oklahoma OK oklahoma OK ok north carolina AR arkansas AR entucky TN KY tennessee kentucky tennessee TN MOOK missouri mexico NM OK lina NC north TX oklahoma texas TX OK oklahoma arkansasMO AR miss arkan TN tennessee TN tennessee ico NM new oklahoma OK oklahoma OK ok north carolina texas TX texas AR arkansas AR AL alabama georgia tennessee TN tennessee TN - Lionel McIntyre mexico NM OK TX oklahoma texas TX OK oklahoma OK arkansas AR arka ssippi MS missi ma AL TN ala GA TN tennessee tennessee Professor of Urban Planning, Columbia University ico NM new oklahoma OK oklahoma OK ok texas TX texas AR arkansas AR MSAL alabama mississippi Director, Urban Technical Assistance Program OK OK oklahoma OK TX oklahoma texas TX texas arkansas AR arka ssippi MS missi Black Population: 4000, White Population: 2000 Former Resident, New Orleans texas TX texas TX texas TX tex AR arkansas AR MS mississippi Equalized distribution due to slavery TX texas TX texas TX texas arkansas AR arka ssippi MS missi LATX louisiana LA louisiana mississippi louisiana LA louisiana MS ssippi MS missi LA louisiana LA louisiana new orleans mississippi MS louisiana LA louisiana LA louisiana LA louisiana gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of louisiana LAmexico louisiana gulf of mexico gulf of gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of LA louisiana LA louisiana gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of louisiana LA louisiana gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of Mississippi Watershed gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of Source: Rand McNally Atlas 2006 gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf Flood of Control Act Flood Control ActFlood Control Act Flood Disaster TennesseeValley Control Act TennesseeValley Flood Control Act Flood Control Act gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico of Congress Levee-only policy Levee-only policy Relief Congress abandons Congress ‘levee- abandonsAuthority ‘leveefirst Authority national flood first national flood Congressgulf responsible for flood responsible for flood gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico adopted adopted Act approach Established control program control program control control only’ approach only’Established gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico gulf of mexico InsuranceFIRA= ReformFlood Act Insurance Reform Act 1950 =1890 Major Flood = Major 1880 1880 1890 1900Flood 1900 1910 1910 1920 1920 1930 1930 1940 FIRA= Flood1940


new orleans

new orleans

1927 Flood

new orleans


new orleans

1976 Levees

1993 Flood

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers 1976

Source: USGS, based on Parrett et al, 1993

2005 Flood Note: There is a change in census tract boundaries per census period.

New Orleans is unque in that it has the only mud coast... the Barrier Islands are being eroded by oil drilling activity. To have real flood protection, the Barrier Islands would have to be restored. - Lionel McIntyre 1940 Census: Black population

1990 Census: Black population

1 - 79

0 - 28

0 - 274

80 - 355


275 - 1040

356 - 769

442 - 1477

1041 - 1881

770 - 2117

1477 - 3191

1882 - 2777

2118 - 6269

3191 - 257478

2778 - 8850

Disaster Watershed Relief Protection & Flood Act Prevention Act 1950

1970 Census: Black population

Federal Flood Insurance Act

Water Resources Council Established FIRA 1960

Flood Disaster Protection Act 1970

Coastal Barrier Resources Act Prohibits new federal expenditures in certain flood areas FIRA= Flood Insurance Reform Act


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act & Coastal Barrier Improvement Act = Major Flood


2000 Census: Black population


Consolidated Appropriations Act

Disaster Mitigation & Cost Recovery Act 2000


Flood Ins. Enhanced Borrowing Authority Act 2006

Source: Association of State Floodplain Managers. The Nation’s Responses to Floodplain Disaster: A Historical Account. 2000.



The five public housing buildings shown here are examples of the history of public housing in New Orleans. Predicatbly, this history is characterized by spattial and social segregation. The Florida, the Desire and the St. Bernard were built on the otuskirts of the city. The former St. Thomas, now more marketably called Lakeview, was transformed into a mixed-income development community and, in the process, lost more than 90% of its original population. The Iberville, on prime land near the French Quarter, was intended to become the next renovation project. Katrina provided the perfect excuse,. However, residents gathered against the developers and, to date, the Iberville redevelopment has been stopped. III. environmental design: new orleans now

public housing: who lives there? desire

The Desire development was built in 1949 under the new Housing Project that the US federal government was promoting. Unfortunately, the site chosen for

the Desire was completely isolated from the rest of the city. To cut costs, the Desire was built of wood with a brick veneer and inevitably, the buildings began to fall apart. In 1995, HANO was given a HOPE VI grant by the HUD for the Desire. The original 1200 units were completely renovated into 400. st. bernard

Theconstruction five public housing buildings shown here are ex- In the St. 1950’s Thomas.theThe fundingAuthority for the St. “was The St. Bernard building was started in 1940. In1960, ended with 744 units in 74 buildings. Housing builtThomas 720 units,

Who lives in housing?

the first amples of the history of public housing in New Or- contract signed by Roosevelt under the Wagner Bill”, it granting the St. Bernard the distinction of being one of the largest public housing buildings in New Orleans. By 2004, HANO started renovating the buildings leans. A history characterized by spattial and social was designated only for white residents, but after 1964 with only 950 units occupied (the year before this number had been 1200). segregation. The Florida, the Desire and hte St. Ber- this decision was abolished. The St. Thomas was built nard, were built on hte otuskirts of the city. The former over desired land next to the French Quarter. It originally st. thomas St. Thomas, now called Lakeview , was transformedin had 970 units. And in 1952, 540 more units were built. In The funding for the St. Thomas was the first contract by Roosevelt under the Wagner Bill. It was only for residents,under but a HOPE VI tosigned a mix income development community, in the pro-originally 1990 designated the St. Thomas waswhite redeveloped cess lost htan desired 90% of land its original population. after 1964, this decision was overturned. The St. Thomas wasmore built over next to the French Quarter. It originally 970 units. 1952, 540 project, by Lesterhad Kabencoff. TheIn project included a huge The Iberville, under standing on prime land, near the French Wal The Mart.project 90% included of the original not returned more units were built. In 1990, the St. Thomas was redeveloped a HOPE VI project by Lester Kabencoff. a huge dwellers Wal Mart.did 90% Quarter, was intended to become the next renovation of the original dwellers did not return. Florida. The Florida was built in 1937. It originally consisted of project. Katrina became the perfect excuse,. However, 500 units. In the 1990’s HANO started redeveloping the area, the residents gathered against the developers and until socalled redevelopmetn consisted in repairing 77 units, buildflorida now, the Iberville redevelopment has been stopped. ingthe 62area, new ones, selectively demolishing 194new and razing 500. The Florida was built in 1937. It originally consisted of 500 units. In the 1990’s HANO started “redeveloping” repairing 77 unites, building 62 Desire. The Desire development was built in 1949 under the new Housing Project that the US federal govern- Iberville. The Iberville was built near the French Quarter, on the ones, selectively demolishing 194, and razing 500. ment was promoting. However the site picked for the Desire was completely isolated from the rest of the city. To cut so called Jazz District of New Orleans, by 2000 it was one of the costs, the Desire was built of would with a brick veneer, eventually the buildings began to fall apart. In 1995, HANO poorest neighborhoods in New Orleans. The Iberville was meant was given a HOPEiberville VI grant by the HUD for the Desire. The original 1200 units were completely renovated into 400. to be for white servicemen, this happened but only briefly. Before The Iberville was built near the French Quarter, in the Jazz District of New Orleans. By 2000 it was one of the poorest neighborhoods in New Orleans. The public St. Bernard. The St. Bernard building was started in 1940, in 1960 the construction ended and the St. Bernard counted with 744 units in Katrina the Iberville counted with 858 apartments. HANO was Iberville was meant to be for white servicemen, but this association was short-lived. Before Katrina the Iberville had 858 apartments. HANO to planning to “modernize” it with thewas helpplanning of the developer Lester 74 buildings. In the 1950’s the Housing Authority built 720 units more, it was then one of the largest public housing buildings in New Kabencoff, known for his complete renovation of the St. Thomas. “modernize” it with the of the Lester Kabencoff, his efficient renovation the St. Thomas. Orleans. By 2004, HANO started renovating the help buildings anddeveloper only 950 units were occupied,known the yearfor before this number had beenof1200. .sources:,

Leticia Crispin, Kay Cheng


# of units


year # units










+/NO population line

year # units

# units












# units


2000 925



+/NO population line

year # units







0 %


98.1% BLACK






0 %


98.1% BLACK

858 484,000



1946 1949





- 140 (14 buildings)


2004 2004 950





97.8% BLACK






1937 937

1952 1952



+/NO population line








+/NO population line





98.1% BLACK


+/NO population line






2001 2 200


36 -1393





93.1% BLACK





















2. Miles



“We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” - Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists




complete devastation/ require demolition






Rebuilding allowed now Building moratorium until neighborhoods prove viability Approximate areas of expected to become parks and greenspace Areas to be redeveloped, some with new housing for relocated homeowners


complete devastation/ require demolition


significant flooding/ severe damage


ST. BERNARD St. Bernard •

moderate wind damage



flooding/damage level source: HANO website




no flooding/ minor damage


St. Thomas






What does the BNNOC Plan mean for neighborhood viability?

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin formed a task force, The Bring New Orleans Back Commission, to come up with various plans to simultaneous rebuild the city, and address many persistent issues which have faced the Crescent City for years. The Commission established a vision statement: New Orleans will be a sustainable, environmentally safe, socially equitable community with a vibrant economy. Its neighborhoods will be planned with its citizens and connect to jobs and the region. Each will preserve and celebrate its heritage of culture, landscape, and architecture. (Urban Planning Committee Action Plan Executive Summary, 3) Following the vision, the Commission’s Urban Planning Committee was charged with making plans for rebuilding, with the following guidelines: to create a comprehensive, city-wide framework for a long-term sustainable city that could only be New Orleans. The solutions to each issue had to be direct, efficient, and equitable, enhance citizens’ quality of life, and create opportunities for future evolution of the community toward achievement of its vision. All these tasks needed to be accomplished without most of the hard data traditionally used in preparation of such plans, and in an extraordinarily compressed time – this was the gravest emergency imaginable. (Ibid) The Action Plan (a.k.a. BNOBC map) proposes, among other measures, six sites for potential parks and greenspace, as well as twelve sites for infill development. The stated intent for the parkland proposal is to provide a park in each neighborhood, and to utilize particularly flood-prone land for open space. Park land will be a community amenity, but will also provide capacity for stormwater management. Infill development areas were selected as having potential for increased population density, including underutilized land, adjudicated properties, blighted areas, or brownfields, according to Commission statements. The location of these areas has provoked interest, curiosity, confusion, and anger. Detailed descriptions of methodology or criteria for selection of these areas have not been published. However, due to the potential ramifications for property rights, it seems reasonable to examine the potential populations involved, and to unravel the logic behind the plan. We selected three areas to focus our study on: the Lower Ninth Ward, Broadmoor, and Lakeview. The Lower Ninth Ward has become a symbol of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, and of the challenges facing efforts to rebuild. The Lower 9th (“Lower” meaning Southern) sits below sea level, and suffered deep and prolonged flooding. It is still essentially uninhabited. The area is by turns treated as a place with the greatest needs, and as a place which is unfeasible to rebuild. In the Commission Plan, it is the location of potential open space (de-densification), and infill development (densification). Broadmoor lies in the center of the Bowl, below sea level, and suffered six to eight feet of flood water. It is the location of one of the “potential open space” sites in the Commission Plan. Lakeview sits near Lake Ponchartrain, just east of City Park, below sea level, and experienced extensive flooding. It is not marked for open space or for infill development in the Commission Plan.

Marshall Adams, Rachel Harris, new orleans schools Tatiana Pena After Hurricane Katrina the Louisiana Department of Education took over several New Orleans’ public schools, declaring them as failing schools. Since then, only three of these schools have been opened as public schools. The New Orleans school board operates 16 schools, 11 of which are open. Of the 11, only four are charter schools and 7 are public. Twelve charter schools are operated by private entities. In the BNOBC plan public schools are mentioned as vital assets to neighborhoods. However, many of the public schools have been closed and most of the open schools are charter. Residents fear that without public schools there will no longer be an elected board built into the school system for public input of school operations. In 2000 over 90% of students in the Lower Ninth Ward attended public schools, over 80% in Broadmoor and less than 10% in Lakeview. All of the public schools in those neighborhoods are now closed. percentage of new orleans residents living below poverty level*

median household income of residents in new orleans






BNOBC Areas for Further Parkland BNOBC Infill Development Areas





open schools in new orleans april

public schools

private schools


charter schools

closed schools in new orleans april

closed New Orleans schools




closed LA state schools

**source: GNOCDC February 2004, Louisiana Dept of Education April 2006, New Orleans Archdiocese April 2006

percentage of new orleans residenets that are african-american*

percentage of new orleans residents that are homeowners*

* source: 2000 Census, BNOBC, January 2006, GNOCDC February 2004. 0-20%










More than 6 months after Katrina devastated New Orleans, 125,000 homes remain damaged. Representative Barney Frank described the neglect as “a policy of ethnic cleansing by inaction.” Firsthand experience of the abandoned, rotting Lower 9th Ward leaves one questioning how to help residents return and rebuild. Publicly-owned housing is intact and yet vacant. These facilities could provide temporary housing for residents returning home. New Orleans City Council members have stated that returning residents must be willing and able to work; yet while post-Katrina job opportunities in construction are abundant, displaced residents are not necessarily qualified for work in that sector. Community organizations could use public buildings as training facilities, where residents would be able to develop the skills needed to participate in the rebuilding efforts. To understand the context around the rebuilding, research initially focused on federal disaster relief funding. Investigating the allocation of public dollars led to a series of information roadblocks, with the exception of data listed by the Department of Homeland Security regarding FEMA contracts. Analysis of these contracts indicate that large, international companies receive the vast majority of public funds, dwarfing the private donations that support community-based rebuilding efforts and generating limited local employment opportunity. where are federal funds going?


Data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contract awardees, their location, the amount of the contract, and, in some cases, project descriptions. Companies with addresses in states other than Louisiana received the largest allocations of federal funding. $150 million This allocation suggests that public dollars yield limited employment benefits to the local population. While COST TO BUILD 1,000 HOUSES IN 2004 Louisiana has received some funds from FEMA, 43 states are involved in rebuilding, thus linking citizens across Source: US Census Bureau 2004 the United States in New Orleans’ struggle to regain its viablility. Information is limited regarding the rationale for the distribution of funds, sub-contractors involved in the efforts, the potential of local organizations to fulfill $595 million contracts, and the proportion of hired local workers to implement this work. Further research should explore NEW ORLEANS CITY BUDGET 2004 Source: City of New Orleans 2004 methods to strengthen the connection between federal relief funds and the needs of the people most directly impacted by the disaster.


Source: ACORN May 2006

$162 million

what do these numbers mean? Source: DHS 2006


What is the dollar disconnect?

To put the size of FEMA contracts into context, the chart above compares the dollar amounts received by major construction companies with the non-profit organization spending on rebuilding, renovating, and cleaning damaged housing, New Orleans municipal budget, and the approximate cost to build 1,000 housing units. The combined total of the federal funds allocated to CH2M Hill and Flour Enterprises is nearly twice the amount of money needed to run the entire City of New Orleans.

Elizabeth Kays, Shelby Kohn, Stacy Radine, Lindsay Smith

FEMA Contract Allocations ($) No Allocations

< $1 million

$1+ million

$10+ million

> $100 million

Louisiana 2003 Industries

March 2006 Job Listings

$98 million FEMA Funds $1.8 billion

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis 2003;, March 2006

Employment & Job Listings by Industry Other

Healthcare & Social Services

Retail & Hospitality


where can residents work? Katrina dramatically impacted the physical and financial environment. To identify available work opportunities for returning residents, job listings posted on various websites were analyzed. Over a month long period, jobs opportunites were concentrated in three industries: healthcare and social services, retail and hospitality, and construction. Compared to the 2003 from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the prominence of these sectors in New Orleans has seemingly doubled. This suggests that people seeking work in New Orleans will need to learn new skills to match the job market. At the same time, the education and socio-economic characteristics of the displaced population match those of employees that typically enter these sectors.



the flow chart of dead ends


New Orleans, Louisiana Common Ground | ACORN 45 FT Volunteers | 35 Employees FY 2005: private donations only FEMA: 0 Contracts | $0 Million

fluor enterprises

California Offices in 25 Countries 35,000 Employees FY 2005: $13.2 Billion Katrina Work: Housing, Infrastructure, Technical Assistance FEMA: 23 Contracts | $823 Million

ch2m hill

Colorado 493 Offices Worldwide 18,000 Employees FY 2005:$3.8 Billion Katrina Work: Engineering, Housing, Debris Removal FEMA: 13 Contracts | $162 Million

What is a landscape of information? Elizabeth Kays, Shelby Kohn, Stacy Radine, Lindsay Smith LOCAL NONPROFITS IN FEMA CONTRACTS OVER NEW ORLEANS $1 MILLION ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) African American Leadership Project Agenda for Children C3/Hands off Iberville Coalition Color of Change Common Ground Collective Community Labor United/People’s Hurricane Relief Fund Concerned Citizens of Agricultural Street Critical Resistance Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children Federation of Southern Land Cooperatives Greater Birmingham Ministries Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch Gulf Restoration Network Jeremiah Group[ Louisiana Industrial Areas Foundation Katrina Information Network Katrina Legal Aid Resource Center Katrina People Finder Project Lafayette Anti-Racist Action Louisiana Bucket Brigade Louisiana Network Mississippi American Civil Liberties Union Mississippi Center for Justice Mississippi Workers’ Center Moore Community House/Mississippi Low Income Childcare Coalition Neighborhood Development Foundation Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans New Orleans Food and Farm Network New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation New Orleans NAACP Chapters New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative New Orleans Network Operation Gulf Coast People to People Project People’s Hurricane Relief Fund People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Project South Rebuild Hope Now Rebuilding Louisiana Coalition S.O.S. (Saving Ourselves) Coalition Southern Echo Southern Empowerment Project Southern Mutual Help Association Student Hurricane Network Sustainable Metropolitan Communities Initiative The Justice Center, New Orleans Not-for-Profit, Indigent Defenders The Metropolitan Organization Turkey Creek Community Initiatives Twenty-first Century Youth Leadership Movement U.S. Human Rights Network

American Homestar Annie Rae Chevrolet Geo Arrowhead RV Sales, Inc. Art’s RV Bechtel Berryland Motors, LLC C J’S RV Town, Inc. Calendar’s Restaunt & Bar, Inc. Campers Inn of Kingston Candy’s Campers, Inc. CDW Government Inc. CH2M HILL Champion Home Builders Chesaco Motors INC Clearbrook, LLC CMH Manufacturing Construction Services Crestview RV Center CS & M Associates Dick Gore’s RV World, Inc. Disaster Recovery & Housing-LA, LLC Dusty’s Camper World Dylan Homes, LCC E.T. I. Inc. Emergency Response Mgm’t. Consultants Fall Creek Homes, LLC Fisher Scientific Company Fluor Enterprises Fuqua Homes, Inc. GFP Enterprises Inc. Gilman Outdoor Equipment Inc. Group 1 Software, Inc. Guthrie Co. Hess Marketing Holiday Inn Select Hope’s Camper Corner HUE-MAR, LLC Incident Catering Services Innovative Emergency Intents Joel’s Grand Cuisine Jones, Cliff, Inc. Language Services Associates Losco Inc. Lott Oil Company, Inc. Lowery Trailer Mc Laughlin Enterprises, McKesson HBOC, Inc. Midwest Canvas Corp Morgan Building & Spas Nationwide Infrastructure Support Technical Assistance Consultants North American Catastrophe Services, Inc. Northern Wholesale Trailers Partnership for Response and Recovery Premier Party Rentals Primeaux RV, LLC R & G Food Service RV America RW Day and Associates Shaw Environmental Shorewood Capital, Inc. Southern Energy Homes,Inc. Southgate Residential Terry Town Travel Center, Triple-A-Cleaning Universal Marine & RV Inc. Walkabout RV, LLC Wilkins Recreational

Non-profits physcially rebuilding

Highlighted FEMA awardees

This chart illustrates that publicly accessible information on the political, economic, and social activities in New Orleans is inadequate. Limited and incomplete data present a challenge to developing any proposal for effective rebuilding policy. This chart traces the attempt to create a grassroots advocacy program to bring residents back through utilizing public housing and existing job training opportunities. Throughout the research process, ideas progressed as new information was gathered and roadblocks were encountered, curtailing and significantly shifting the project focus. The unbalanced network of information about those doing work in New Orleans stresses large-scale, federally-funded contracts and de-emphasizes community-based efforts. Findings are focused on the government’s distribution of federal disaster relief funds to powerful contracting companies throughout the US. This research is marked by a number of unanswered questions, due in some cases to a to a lack of governmental transparency, but the complexities and uncertainties of the reconstruction environment do not detract from the urgent need for employment and housing among the people of New Orleans. sources (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, ACORN) ACORN New Orleans Chapter. Telephone Interview. May 2, 2006. (Bureau of Economic Analysis) (U.S. Census Bureau) Center for Social Inclusion. “CSI Hurricane Katrina Clearinghouse Chart.”April 3, 2006. (CH2M Hill) City of New Orleans. Chief Administrative Office. “Two-Year Progress Report.” 2004. (Common Ground Collective) Davis, Mike. “Who is Killing New Orleans?” The Nation. April 10, 2006. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “FEMA Contracts Awarded in Support of Hurricane Katrina Recovery Efforts.” April 17, 2006. (Department of Homeland Security) (Fluor Corporation) (Greater New Orleans Community Data Center) (Housing Authority of New Orleans) Mississippi Renewal Forum. Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods. Pittsburgh, PA: Urban Design Associates, 2005. Savage, Martin. “What’s next for Public Housing in New Orleans?” NBC News. February 21, 2006 (The Shaw Group)



Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has been a partial city and residents have had a difficult time returning. One obstacle in the way of returning residents and visitors is the lack of information about what exactly is open. Without vital services such as grocery stores, hardware stores, schools, daycare centers, retail outlets, restaurants, and community services, people are unable to come back and also unable to gauge their employment opportunities. To begin to understand what is currently open in the city, we chose to focus on one major road. Canal Street is a main thoroughfare that runs across the width of the city and through a wide range of neighborhoods. 2,595 businesses existed on Canal Street prior to Hurricane Katrina. Searching extensively for open business listings yielded only five sources and pieced together, these listings accounted for only 62 open businesses. Where are the rest? Are there actually more open? We just don’t know. A central resource for open business information is a necessary tool to allow people to reinhabit the city. Otherwise, how can former residents gauge their neighborhood resources as they plan their return? How can visitors know where to find hotel accomodations or get a drink? As New Orleans rebuilds, the city needs accessible information on the climate of commerce to rediscover its vibrancy and to serve the needs of its current and future residents.

businesses open after flooding

businesses in relation to land use patterns

Most of Canal Street experienced flooding due to low elevation levels. The French Quarter and Central Business District were not underwater and the number of businesses found so far reflects this.

To better understand the pattern of found businesses, the land use map helps to show that the location of open businesses reflects the area’s land use patterns. However, the 62 open businesses currently found is a far cry from the 2,595 that existed prior to the hurricane.

What’s open on Canal Street? Cate Corley, Kay Cheng, Candy Chang

Lake Pontchartrain

Lake Pontchartrain

french quarter

& cbd







1 Miles

Miles Flood extent

Open business




Open space

Open business



Of the businesses we have found, certain themes have emerged. The majority of open businesses are chain companies, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Walgreen’s, Marriott, Mrs. Field’s Cookies, and Domino’s Pizza. With twice as many chains as independent companies, this situation draws concern for the amount of aid provided to small businesses. The White House has rejected hurricane disaster-recovery loans at a higher rate than any other administration in the last fifteen years. The Small Business Administration has processed only one-third of the 276,000 loan applications it has received, and it has rejected 82 percent of those it has reviewed. How can small and independent businesses return without more help? Will large chains take advantage of this situation? Will the dyanmics of Canal Street return to its state before Katrina or will it develop into an entirely different place? Without more assistance, small businesses are most at risk to disappear, changing the landscape of the city forever. In addition, most of the resourses we found were directed at tourists. The listings showed primarily restaurants and bars. Generating tourist revenue has always been an important part of the economy of New Orleans. It stands to reason that the private sector will concentrate its resources on attracted capital. In light of this, there seems to be a real need for the public sector to not only step in to provide business assistance, but to create a resource for residents to have access to a comprehensive body of information. Related to this post-Katrina environment, issues of equity in New Orleans have surfaced. Does a city dependent almost exclusively on toursim create a just enviornment for its inhabitants? Can New Orleans do better for its citizens? If in fact many of the unaccounted for businesses are not open and do not plan on returning, this may present an opportunity for the city to change its image. In the midst of all the talk - and rightfully so - about housing, future risk, parkland, and the like, there seems little talk about what sort of business climate the city and its residents might like to attract. Prior to Katrina, New Orleans had a relatively weak economy and high unemployment. Hurricane Katrina presents the city with a unique opportunity to not only change its image, but perhaps work to create an economy in which a larger percent of its citizens can participate. Resources:,.,,, Citysearch,,, The New York Times

Will small businesses survive? Cate Corley, Kay Cheng, Candy Chang

Seafood and Company China Wall Restaurant JNS Products Crowne Plaza Hotel SGE Unlimited


Morton's Steak House

Golden Wall Chinese Rest.

Westway Feed, Trading, Holdings, Terminal

Creole Superstore Walgreen's

Crescent Guardian Inc.

The Palace CafÈ

The Boston Club

Nuage CafÈ

Jazz City

Crescent City Gifts

New Orleans Marriott

Shula's Steakhouse

Mrs. Fields Cookies


River Grille

Sheraton New Orleans Sheraton New Orleans

Centre Deli

Canal Place Cinema

Panda CafÈ

L.I.F.T. Productions CafÈ Giovanni Amoss Trading Services, Inc.

Big Easy of Canal

Algiers Ferry Lucky Dogs

Double Tree Hotel-New Orleans Bambo

Fuddruckers Starbuck's Coffee Gray Line New Orleans Domino's Pizza Mobile Unit


1 Miles

Chain business

Independent business


Other business



This design studio was taught in conjunction with a seminar, “Architecture and Education” at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, co-taught by Kelvin Sealey and Scott Marble. The weekly meetings and discussions with education students along with the research developed for their papers (a synopsis of which is part of this publication) provided an expanded background of information on many educational topics as they relate to the issues surrounding the public school system in New Orleans. Both courses were part of the ongoing work of a research lab at the GSAPP, Design Lab for Learning Organizations, which rethinks spaces of learning by looking at the intersection of design and the goals of educators. The design studio aimed to develop a new approach to the concept of prototype in the context of the design of a middle school(s), focusing on the ability of the prototype to physically and organizationally adjust to fluctuating student populations and using Post-Katrina New Orleans as a case study. Public schools will play a significant role in rebuilding the social and cultural fabric of New Orleans and will need to be rebuilt quickly to bring residents back and to ease the complications of a prolonged mass migration. The extreme physical, economic, political, and social damage that resulted from the hurricane is triggering radical new ideas for how to rebuild this city. The continued chaos and apparent lack of leadership has resulted in the state takeover of New Orleans schools and an initial plan to convert most, if not all, public schools to charter schools. This will have significant implications for the residents and also will set new precedents for school reform around the country. The studio’s approach was to analyze several existing school locations through site visits and demographic studies, with each student selecting a specific site in New Orleans to test their prototype designs.

Expandable Prototypes for Public Schools in Post-Katrina New Orleans Scott Marble with Eric Tinlup Ng

New Orleans offers an historic opportunity to virtually redesign what was a failing school system into a vital part of the larger rebuilding effort. In this regard, the studio sought not only to design school buildings but to consider organizational ideas for the entire school system. Schools, in fact, are considered to be critical public institutions that must be reestablished quickly to help encourage the city’s residents to return. Based on class discussions, presentations from local experts, the committee reports from the Bring New Orleans Back commission, and the experience of seeing the devastation first-hand, students selected one of four strategies for how the city should rebuild its school system. Single model solutions to public schools in larger urban areas have never proved an effective approach to the needs of student populations which, in these areas, are naturally diverse and require an equally diverse set of school types. This fact becomes even more complicated in New Orleans as the unpredictability of return of its citizens prevents an accurate analysis of the demand for schools. After an initial period of research and a first site visit to New Orleans, it became apparent that several school prototypes should be proposed, corresponding to different time frames that could respond to the unique problems of rebuilding the public school system. Offering options to the city was determined to be more useful in accommodating the return of residents that will inevitably continue over several years. Therefore, each of the four options below is also associated with a relative time frame as to when it might occur within the general rebuilding of New Orleans. Students could also choose to work in any of the neighborhoods but were asked to correlate that decision with the selected prototype. After analyzing research material and processing their observations from the first visit, students made a second trip to New Orleans specifically to further document and research their sites, which proved especially useful, as many of them were able to speak with local residents and officials about the specific conditions of their respective areas. A study by the Rand Corporation shortly after the storm estimated that only half of the city’s population would return, and whether or not this turns out to be an accurate prediction, it indicates the extent to which the city’s future is in flux. The studio’s goal was to examine this very uncertain environment and to reimagine the design of new public schools for the city. SCHOOL PROTOTYPE OPTIONS timeframe now

| prototype

| classroom

Age: Middle School Size: 1-4 Classrooms Type: Charter

1-2 years | affiliate Age: Middle School Size: 200 - 300 Students Type: Charter

4-6 years | schools within a school Age: Middle School for at least one of the schools / optional for the others Size: 3 schools with 200 - 300 students per school Type: Charter

6-8 years | cultural complex Age: Middle School Size: single school with 200 - 300 Students along with other programs Type: Charter Other Programs: Community Center, Health Services Center, Recreation Center, Public Library

Phillips Junior High School, St. Bernard Parish. Photo: Sean Erickson



Cafetorium - Langston Hughes Elementary School. Photo: Eric Tinlup Ng.

Ilten/Molloy/No, p.36-9 Wang, p.48-9

Young, p.50-1

Whitney, p.42-3 Erickson, p.44-5 Kenoff, p.52-3

McAnneny, p.46-7 Balakumar, p.40-1

Lewis, p.54-5

New Orleans - Flooded Area vs. Location of Project Sites. Source: Digital Globe




Site: Phillips Junior High School

The Classroom Prototype responded to the immediate condition and urgent need to provide some stability to the school system, simultaneously with the development of more comprehensive master plans. It was more modest in scope but very ambitious in concept, as the goal was to build classrooms and classroom clusters that were cost effective, longer lasting, environmentally conscious, component-based systems that could integrate an existing school or become the seed for a new school, avoiding the chronic problems associated with the ubiquitous portable classroom. While portable classrooms are always intended to be deployed temporarily as an interim solution to space needs, they often remain in place for many years, becoming part of the permanent landscape of public schools. And while they are universally seen as architecturally inadequate and symbolically negative, they continue to expand in use, indicating that they are successful in some fundamental ways. Students were asked to analyze those successful aspects and then incorporate them into a better designed alternative with the fundamental difference that the designs be based on components parts instead of modules. The now notorious “FEMA Trailer” solution to temporary housing that spread across New Orleans following Katrina served as a constant reminder of what not to do as a solution for schools. For a myriad of reasons, these trailers quickly became a symbol of the poorly planned and haphazardly executed response to the immediate Hannah Ilten, CLASSROOM PROTOTYPE - P.37

How can educational resources cultivate community action? One of the greatest struggles for families wishing to return to New Orleans was deciding whether to leave their temporary stability to re-ground themselves in a city that may or may not have been able to provide a safe and enriching future for their children. Prototyping for disaster response at the level of public education requires the implementation of a system to address the most immediate survival needs of the community, while simultaneously providing long term incentives that indicate a sense of permanence and revitalization. This project proposes that classroom renovation and development begin by planting those seed resources required for community resuscitation: such as food service, first aid, communication services, and legal advice. Each seed resource is designed to support the expansion of a variety of classrooms according to a specific system of components. By prioritizing the construction of seed facilities as emergency response and as the cornerstones of a permanent school, the resident’s dilemma of whether to rebuild OR to provide a stable education for their family is eased. Designing from both ends towards the middle fosters a response that is both socially reactive and urbanistically proactive. Julia Molloy, CLASSROOM PROTOTYPE - P.38

How can we learn with 22 million tons of waste? from waste to re-source

The World Trade Center left 1.25 million tons of trash. With this waste, New Yorkers are building a 2,200 acre landfill amenity. Fresh Kills Landfill Park will carry more than 3 times the landmass as Central Park. If you take the same waste to land fill ratio and apply it to the approximated 22 million tons of waste left from Hurricane Katrina, one will find that New Orleans could provide a potential for 44,000 acres of landfill. That is 64 square miles and about 1/3 of New Orleans landmass. Alternative solutions to re-cycle, re-use, and re-define the waste of the hurricane are imperative.

case study: phillips junior high school

Phillips Junior High School is located in St. Bernard neighborhood right on the London Canal between the St. Bernard Public Housing Development and city park. The area was hit with 6 feet of flood water standing for two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina, Phillips Junior High School was re-opened as a Kiip School, a franchise charter school system. This lowered the school capacity from 500 to 125 students. Although the second floor of the school, the gym and auditorium were virtually untouched, the school is unlikely to be opened for the 2006 school year in August because of the low expectancy rate of the returning neighborhood community. Although 1324 families have been evacuated from the public housing, all of which send their children to public schools, and most of which resided on the second or third floor of the development untouched by the flood, none are welcomed to return. Fences and window guards block out re-occupation. Once this 2006 school year is over, families will return to their homes to evaluate what is left and decide how they wish to continue their lives. Phillips Junior High School could be a place to assist them through this time and become a place providing the opportunity to re-develop their lives in a re-New Orleans.


What would an urban salvaging system look like? edward henry phillips junior high school

Water in the school reached a flood level of five-anda-half feet when Katrina hit New Orleans, and the first floor was severely damaged. However, the concrete structure and second floor remain intact. Thus, the proposal is to tear down and open up the ground level while creating a new public school on the upper level. The proposal includes the reuse of architectural waste from the Phillips school and other buildings in New Orleans. Wall components made of fragmented glass, bricks, concrete, masonry units, sliding panels, etc., become part of an emergent response and a recharacterization of debris. The ground level of the school becomes an urban plaza and the upper level emerges as a new public school.


how to grow a classroom

The proposed system of components is designed to attach to any new or existing columnar structure through bolt and snap attachments. The basic system is that of operable horizontal panels, similar to jalousie windows found throughout New Orleans, fastened on wheels to a vertical track, allowing the window to fully open and close. In certain organizations, the track itself may be able to open to 90 degrees; providing a sunshade for classes extending out of doors. All parts are designed to be interchangable allowing for new forms and combinations in each classroom or school according to their needs and inventiveness.

The Seed Model: Proposed Method for Sustaining Classroom Growth through Immediate Response

Service Ports become Vital Resources within weeks. As Community stability is regained and classrooms begin to develop, unnecessary resource nodes may also be converted to classrooms and additional service ports may be deployed as classroom support for the arts and sciences.

Component Details

See for complete projects.




needs of the citizens and the subsequent first step toward rebuilding that followed Katrina. A few of the issues that surfaced upon closer analysis were the relative high cost of the trailers, the reliance on power, water, and sewage infrastructure that remained in ruin and unusable for months after the storm (still not working in many neighborhoods), and the lack of a plan for what to do with the trailers after residents move back into their houses, rendering them a disposable item and ironically contributing to the waste created by the storm. Many of the public school buildings in New Orleans are salvageable so in order to test the designs of the Classroom Prototype, the three projects in this group were all sited at the Phillips Junior High School in the St. Bernard neighborhood, a school that was badly damaged but not destroyed. The proposals by Julia Molloy and Yooju No took explicit approaches to the problem of the massive amounts of debris created by the storm by incorporating some form of recycling and recycled materials into their designs. All three of the projects proposed that the component-based construction be part of a curricular program that allowed the students to be part of the building process. This not only would expedite the process, but also would give the residents and their families a reason to come back to the city: a vested interest and say in how their neighborhoods are rebuilt. This approach followed the trend that was emerging after the storm (and is still occurring) of the neighborhoods themselves taking the initiative to clean up and begin rebuilding their houses in the absence of any city-wide organized plan.

The 103 closed public schools are opened as centers for community

Families are encouraged to return home to distinguish what is waste. The RE-pod is developed from a system of component parts creating opportunities for transitional changes, designing temporary to permanent classrooms spaces for growing schools.

The salvageable materials; sorted into re-useables and recyclables...

...becoming centers for employment, redevelopment and education. A recycling industry is extablished on site at closed public schools,

Easy to assemble parts make it possible for students to be part of the building of their school. As more students return, a steel framework is infilled with blocks of recycled wood, rubber, and glass.

Materials collected from the neighborhood infill the wall of the new classroom. Earth is folded up to the the walls of the RE-pod to embed the transitioned space permanently into the school fabric.


Siding Panels v

Siding Panels


Salvage (Reuse) existing structure

Bricks Rubbles Glass

Bricks / Rubbles

Tear down & Salvage materials

Cultural Plaza with Floodable programs

Glass / Plastic / Empty

library cafeteria

gym & auditorium common classrooms

private classrooms

See for full projects.




Site: New Orleans Public Library Main Branch, Mid-City

While Katrina affected the entire city of New Orleans, some areas were impacted to a much greater degree than others due primarily to their elevation and proximity to the levee breaches. The rebuilding efforts are similarly skewed, as there are zones of the city (or even individual institutions) that have more support in reopening than others. The second prototype proposed that schools destroyed in the storm join with an existing cultural or educational institution that was less affected, or one that had adequate support in rebuilding, to form an affiliation that would provide immediate economic and educational support. Like all of the four prototypes being proposed, the affiliate model has successful precedents around the country and has many advantages beyond those immediate needs specific to the New Orleans situation. Devon Ercolano Provan, in her paper “School/University Partnerships: Shared Responsibility for Ensuring Social Mobility in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” presents several successful examples of affiliations between public high schools and universities as a context for proposing a similar model for New Orleans with Tulane University, University of New Orleans, and Dillard University. Both projects presented here propose affiliations with public libraries. Aiyla Balakumar chose the main branch of the public library in the downtown area near the Superdome as a site and proposed a three-story addition to the top of


How can we use resource exchange to rebuild? Rebuilding New Orlean’s social infrastructure is vital to the life of the city. Schools and libraries are at the center of a community, and sharing resources is a way to facilitate rebuilding in the short term. The long term plan anticipates programmatic evolution along the lines of a place based / project based learning evnvironment that uses the library as a lens through which to design a pedagogy. Densification at the physical city center, the areas around the largely unscathed central business district, will serve to blur the racial & socio-economic borders dividing high land from low land and to bring into the fold the Mid-city, Treme, and Iberville areas (the “back of town”). Though a particular site has been chosen (the main branch of the public library), the strategy includes the rebuilding of each community library. In this rebuilding process, ithe physical incorporation of affiliate schools will allow for more efficient use of public funds for both, without diminishing the pool of public funds allocated (as might be the eventual result of a private-public affiliation). Information search, acquisition, and dissemination will be at the center of this school: library relationship. Though search processes have changed radically in the past 10 years libraries have remained static with stacks as the main program and computer centers as add-ons.Students should have an active role in not only acquiring information but also in its creation & dissemination. Likewise, the way that a library is searched and used will be rethought. The “grey” literature that was once virtually inaccessible is now arguably more accessible than formalized publications; this fact should be reflected and exploited in the new library. Additionally, in the move towards the constructivist (project based) learning model, student work will become a part of the grey literature that is available for search. Through place-based and project-based learning, students become active participants in the cycle of information creation & dissemination. This project was sited as an addition on top of the main branch of the New Orleans Public Library.

Photomontage of addition to New Orleans Public Library, Main Branch

school map


information creation create


3rd floor

information aquisition focused research


information cycle + spaces background research

information dissemination




Roof + 1

The rotating stacks cycle through the communal areas of the school creating interdisciplinary learning areas in between classrooms that join two or more cluster/project groups through the mutually pertinent literature. left: ex’g aluminum screen above: polycarbonate panels











3. 8.







New Existing

6. 12.



section A-A

1. classroom 2. communal area + rotating stacks 3. courtyard 4. patio 5. auditorium 6. library computer lab 7. city archives

8. workshop 9. school & library administration 10. media center 11. african american resource ctr. 12. young adult 13. children’s 14. general stacks

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15. bathrooms 16. music lab 17. classroom 18. media lab 19. computer classroom 20. school entrance 21. 2nd floor gallery

22. 3rd floor gallery 24. kitchen/serving 25. gym 26. locker rooms 27. x-lab/classrooms 28. school magazine office 29. art lab

Site: Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Public Library and Elementary School, Ninth Ward

existing building, with several circulation loops that tied the curriculum of the school to the library collection. Tannar Whitney took an approach that imagined the Affiliate Prototype evolving into the more expansive Cultural Complex Prototype over time by choosing Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library, a large library in the Ninth Ward that already had an elementary school in the building, as a site to grow an urbanistically dense, multi-programmed complex. The King Branch Library was developing before the storm as an institutional hub for the Ninth Ward, and although the collection was almost completely destroyed and the interior severely damaged from standing floodwater, the building structure survived intact. Tannar’s proposal called for a calibrated reprogramming and phasing of the rebuilding of the existing library, along with building out the site to a medium density with various public cultural and educational programs. Implicit in his approach was a challenge to the entire city of New Orleans to consider rebuilding at a much greater density in more select areas, touching on one of the most controversial and politically sensitive issues facing the city.


Can suburbia survive? New Orleans is being challenged by compression. Financial compression of resources, political compression of interest, living compression of returnees, operable compression of infrastructure, temporal compression of (re)building. It must compress spatially in order to survive. Suburbia cannot exist as it once had, sprawling across the sub-sea level basin that is New Orleans’ geological reality. Post-Katrina New Orleans will redevelop with a greater understanding of its geographic limitations while relying on less than adequate state and federal support. It will take more than a decade to resurrect parish wide infrastructure and return to less than 80% of its former population. Public institutions such as libraries, health/recreation centers, community centers, colleges and K-12 schools will be instrumental in revitalizing the city and bolstering its growth. These institutions are in various states of disrepair, allowing some to operate in the immediate future, while most will take years to renovate and others may never rebuild. In order to function, a middle school must preserve its autonomy from the cultural community center that surrounds it. Conversely, it should be able to benefit from the alternative program and shared resources that come from a public affiliate. The compressed proposal allows for a synthesis of these two directives through a 6’ channel that bifurcates the solid mass. It serves as the entry condition to divide the school attendees and community center patrons into separate circulation routes. However, from each entity’s limited space in this model, users are forced back through the channel to access shared program on both sides. The proposed site is already in the process of becoming a community hub for the Ninth Ward. Martin Luther King Jr. Branch public library is the centerpiece of the site, with a grade school already included in its program. Across the street is a senior recreational facility and a police station. Katrina heavily damaged the library, causing it to be slated for a 2008 reopening. However, Common Ground and several community members began a grassroots clean up process that quickly became mired in controversy over lost insurance claims. The end result is that the library and its existing school are trying to reopen as soon as possible. In the interim, cleaning efforts have stabilized the building to the point where it will serve as a community center and congregation hub for those returning to the area.

Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Public Library and Elementary School 1611 Caffin Avenue, Ninth Ward, New Orleans Situated on the corner of Caffin Avenue and North Claiborne Avenue in the Ninth Ward, the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library and Elementary School was a vital part of the ‘Lower Nine’s’ pre-Katrina social and urban fabric. It marked the first merger of a public institution and an elementary school in New Orleans. At its dedication in January 1996, New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial stated that the King Branch is, “the first public library in New Orleans to be attached to an operating public school,” adding, “ We now have a prototype of how school libraries will be built in the future.” The library and school flourished under this model until Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. With one of the most significant levee breaches only 10 blocks away, the library was completely flooded as the high water mark reached 11 feet in Katrina’s rising tide. Its entire collection of books, music equipment and other physical resources were destroyed, but the structure of the primarily concrete masonry unit block building was not compromised. From September 2005 until February 2006 the building remained closed as resources were spread thin across New Orleans. Residents returning to the area in early 2006 clamored for a congregation area where they could make community decisions and lobby the city and state for resources. Many saw the lack of such provision as an inherently racial oversight to prevent the area from achieving the critical quorum required for political recognition. The strategic resource and crisis management firm Alvarez and Marsal had been retained by the state after it usurped control of the parish-wide school system to manage the extremely limited resources available and triage the K-12 schools according to a variety of criteria. Alvarez and Marsal realized that it was impossible to appease demand everywhere until more resources became available. In the interest of getting some schools operating in the quickest amount of time those in the least disrepair were granted the available funding. Others were placed along a timeline loosely based on predicted resident return rates and resource availability. The Martin Luther King Jr. Library and School were slated to begin renovation in 2008. Infuriated by what Ninth Ward residents viewed as prejudiced appropriation of resources, a small group of local residents and Common Ground workers entered the building in early March 2006 and began hauling wheelbarrows full of moldy books and equipment out of the building. Notified of their entry, Alvarez and Marsal officials shut the operation down within hours. Several police were deployed, arrests were made for trespassing and breakingand-entering, and the site was red taped. This raised the ire of local residents and created media attention that forced the site to the forefront of popular issues. In the ensuing week a battle was waged between the residents of the Ninth Ward and state officials that reflected the nationwide disapproval of how the Katrina disaster was being handled. However, by entering illegally and removing materials, the participants voided the insurance claim that the state could have made. A federal aid package designed for the school system also granted up to 90% of the insurance claim in additional assistance, thereby costing the state up to 190% of the claim that could be made against the building. From the state’s perspective, operating with impacted resources to begin with, this kind of waste was difficult to rationalize. Ultimately, the state and Alvarez and Marsal recognized that there was a demand to renovate this building that exceeded their expectations. However, since the forced entry had cost the state significant financial claims, they agreed to let the building be reopened for clean up but with no financial or physical resource assistance. Common Ground saw this as opportunity to make a significant difference in one of the most blighted areas of New Orleans and dedicated over 100 workers to the project in mid-March. It became their flagship project and was championed by the media as heroic example of how to get to things accomplished in a political atmosphere fraught with corruption, prejudice and inefficiency. Certain areas of the building were open for use by the community by July 2006 and the school and library are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2006.


First Floor

Second Floor

Third Floor

Fourth Floor

Fifth Floor

Sixth Floor


Context: Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Public Library and Elementary School

Cross Section

Site: Unflooded

Site: Flooded

See for full projects.

Elevated Play Area




Site: Louisa Street Wharf

In many urban settings, public schools operate significantly above the desired capacity for the most effective learning, resulting in overcrowded classrooms and large schools where many students receive little or no individual attention. Because of capacity problems and extensive research that indicates better performance in smaller classroom environments, cities began experimenting with strategies to break down the organization of schools to achieve optimum sizes. These experiments resulted in various small school types including Alternative Schools, Charter Schools, Pilot Schools;, and Mini-Schools, each having slightly different structures relative to funding, organization, and management approaches, but all small in size. Because it is politically and financially impractical to build new individual public schools as small as they should be, educators in urban school systems began reorganizing their schools within existing buildings into several smaller schools-within-a-school. This proved successful across the country and has evolved into an accepted model for how to efficiently build new buildings that house multiple schools. The Schools Within a School prototype offers the educational benefits of small schools along with the economic and operational benefits of larger schools through shared resources (libraries, cafeterias, gymnasium, labs, etc). With a successful track record in place, this is an organizational model that is very well suited for New Sean Erickson, SCH. WITHIN SCH. PROTOTYPE

Can flexible space create a stable school? What has persisted as the primary influence in the planning and design of any educational institution is a clear understanding of the student population, the community dynamic, and the pedagogical ideology it is intended to support. In the case of post-Katrina New Orleans, each of these conditions finds itself in a state of perpetual flux and uncertainty, incapable of providing a solid foundation for any traditionally informed intervention. Additionally, the implementation of a city-wide charter system in New Orleans has dramatically shifted the perception and operation of public education throughout the city. What could previously be identified as a municipally governed public institution now finds itself operating as an organic composition of various administrative bodies, diverse pedagogical perspectives, and irregular concentrations of a still unpredictable student population. These issues are symptomatic of an increasingly prevalent disconnect between education as a spatially stabilized public institution and learning as a dynamic, open, and flexible activity. It is a condition where knowledge and learning are detached from their institutional associations and are subsequently redefined by globalization, technological advancement, and free market economics. This condition, illustrated in part by a helical conception of knowledge (shown below), provides the foundation of a new learning model for Post-Katrina New Orleans. This proposal is a collaborative model in which autonomous charter schools within a single complex are provided with the opportunity to benefit from dynamic associations across educational and administrative thresholds. The strategic elimination of material boundaries and the integration of ubiquitous circulation establishes the capacity to organically interface both space and information within the complex. The schools and all of their support spaces become unified in an open and

endless system, where all paths are cyclical and can be moved through without leaving a primary or secondary circulation route. Thus, as barriers become thresholds and circulation of previously autonomous spaces intertwine, the individual schools within the complex are able to define their own limits organically through the collective sharing of resources, experiences, and knowledge. It is the intention that these cross-boundary relationships and collaborations can actually help autonomous charter schools adapt and respond to the fluctuations and unpredictability of New Orleans’s present context.

Exterior Cladding System

Learning Spaces and Shared Circulation

Structural System











Flexible Classrom Space

Flexible Classrom Space


Student Lockers/ Breakout Space

Flexible Classrom Space


Student Lockers/ Breakout Space

Student Lockers/ Breakout Space



Work Terrace

Admin. Open To Below Entry Foyer

Shared Classooms/ Labs

Circulation / Communal Breakout Space Lockers Cafeteria


Kitchen Gymnasium

Stor. Lockers

Second Floor Plan

See for full projects.

Health And Counseling




Orleans due to the amount of new school construction needed after Katrina, the emphasis on charter schools which are almost always small, and the fact that multiple schools in a single building allow for an efficient use of scarce public funds.

Site: Washington Avenue Canal

The most provocative challenge in designing this prototype is the requirement that the individual schools have a degree of autonomy while simultaneously overlapping with the other schools through the shared programs. This became the conceptual motivation for many of the ideas in the four projects within this type as they tried to develop plans that could negotiate the intricate physical and curricular boundaries between the three schools. Realizing the need for flexible space and flexible boundaries within and between schools, Sean Erickson proposed an organizational approach that used carefully placed circulation for each school to allow just enough mixing of students from different schools that the territorial boundaries could evolve over time based on the needs and conditions of adjacent schools. Chris McAnneny sited his school along one of the many canals running through the city, incorporating the rising and lowering of the water as way to define exterior space and as an educational probe to teach students about the complex water management system used throughout New Orleans. A weaving circulation system connects the three schools and then branches and extends across the canal to become public pedestrian bridges connecting neighborhoods divided by the canals.


To learn, must New Orleans confront its biggest fear? We learn through a set of experiences. This includes the largely formal atmosphere of the classroom, but also the informal interaction we have with friends, family and community members. The school draws students past classrooms, classmates, and teachers as they progress on a series of ramps that snake through the building. The intertwining circulation systems allow the building’s school and public sections to function independently. The sloping walls of the canal provide an opportunity to supplement learning in the context of New Orleans and its tumultuous relationship with the water. Stepped grassy areas act as generative spaces for the school where classrooms spill out for informal lessons. The unwavering course of the canal stands as a divisive obstacle between communities. The building functions as an armature through which the communities are reunited.

Canals in New Orleans Parish

The Structure of Levees

Pumping into the Canals



     


 

 

1: Gymnasium 2: Classroom – System 1 3: Adult Reading Area 4: Media Center 5: Children Reading Area 6: Amphitheater 7: Performance Stage 8: Community Center 9: Kitchen 10: Science Rooms 11: Dining 12: Main Entrance

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Site: Langston Hughes Elementary School

Charter schools are often described as a “free market” approach to education because it eases regulations and gives students choices for where to attend school. The assumed consequence of charters, especially if used for an entire system, is that some schools succeed, continue to improve and naturally attract increasing numbers of higher performing students and then cannot fill the demand for enrollment. Other schools hover with acceptable results and provide a mediocre education and then some do not succeed, resulting in decreased enrollment (usually lower-performing students) followed by a retracting of the school’s charter. Critics argue that the net result of the charter approach is that the lowest-performing students are ironically left without a choice as the schools compete with each other for the best students. In response to this dilemma, Lillian Wang proposed a model that emphasized cooperation between schools over competition. Drawing on research on theories of cooperative behavior, mainly those of Robert Axelrod, Lillian proposed an approach to charter schools that would mix high- and low- performing students within a Schools Within a School building, organizing classrooms around a “sponge space” designed to encourage group work. Architecture cannot solve the complex problem of teaching students with varying levels of learning skills, but it can play a role, and the success of a proposal like this requires an integration of curricular, administrative, educational, and design goals.


Can competition yield cooperation? Charter schools have become the temporary solution for education in New Orleans, due to the fact that their success is contingent upon their ability to deliver good results in a limited amount of time. However, the danger of engaging charter schools in a cutthroat competition is that a potentially good school may, in fact, be eliminated before it is allowed to reach its full potential. The interest in this studio project lies in examining the issues of competition and cooperation. in a schools-within-school system, using the existing competition to facilitate cooperative efforts in producing system-wide positive gains. The interest lies in designing an environment where charter schools in the schoolswithin-schools system compete on the micro-level, producing dynamic relationships that constantly fluctuate competitively, but, on the macro-level, ultimately work together to stay afloat, rather than consistently engaging in competition that rewards only the ‘fittest’. The organization of the schools-withinschools proposal, in plan, is centered around classrooms, where shared programmatic elements are pushed to the periphery. Students from all three schools interact in these spaces, removed from the physical space of the school to which they belong. Circulation paths, then, weave through the building, serving to connect shared program and classrooms. Located at the heart of the building, the “sponge space” serves as a space between program and classrooms: it is the space all students must enter before going to their schools; it is the space all students must pass through in order to enter the shared program. The sponge space ties the building together, both physically and conceptually.

Current location of Langston Huges Elementary School

Sponge Space Circulation



Sponge Space

Location of Three Schools in Elevation

Circulation Diagram


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Gymnasium Library Administration Cafeteria School 1 School 2 Main Entrance Lobby

I School 3 J Studio K Laboratory L Computer Labs M Auditorium



One of the many shocking but not surprising statistics that became part of the public’s consciousness following Katrina was that over 80% of the people living in New Orleans were born there. This counters the trends of mobility for much of the U.S. population and reinforces the general impression of the city as provincial and seemingly secluded from global pressures that affect other large cities in the U.S. Over the years, New Orleans had developed a strong sense of culture and heritage but one that is uniquely its own. Xan Young proposed adding an international youth hostel to the school with the ambition of fostering an exchange between students from around the world and hinting toward a curriculum that acknowledges the importance of making students conscious at a young age of their position in a global society. As a public school system that is in the process of being rebuilt, both physically and educationally, New Orleans has the opportunity to set a new example for a curriculum that includes global issues critical to future generations. Site: Independence Square


Who gets to call school home?

LEGEND School 1 School 2 School 3 Hostel/Boarding


The notion of community can no longer be defined by local surroundings. In a globalized world, communication is essential. Resources are no longer confined to one’s own borders as entities are empowered to maximize resources (physical and intellectual) from local and distant locations. It is more important than ever that students learn how to not just produce, but to communicate and to collaborate so as to better relate between themselves and others. Combining three schools within a school will focus on what each can do best, and not waste limited energy providing facilities or services that another can do better. These assets will be shared and traded to maximum effect. Minimizing redundancy will maximize efficiency. Organizational approach: The three schools each have a predominant association with one main building facility (theater, library and gym) and it is through the programmatic structure established by the schools with their respective facilities that they will cooperate with each other. In


addition to the three schools, the proposal includes an international youth hostel. Serving in part as an exchange program with other middle schools worldwide, this hostel will provide a venue for New Orleans to welcome a new generation of visitors, using education as a vehicle through which to experience the evolving city. In addition, there will be housing facilities for a small number of qualifying neighborhood students. Partnering with local businesses to sponsor the living costs of children from unstable homes, the school will be more engrained in the surrounding community. With integrated housing components within the larger school, the building is designed to open after school hours and accommodate a variety of academic/ community uses. In the context of New Orleans, it is especially important for the school to create its own sense of community, irrespective of surrounding conditions. The function of a school is not only to incorporate but to augment family and local community.




Living 1 International Youth Hostel 2 Boarding facilities for selected local students Circulation Multiple access routes plus interior inter-school circulation allows for flexibility of program shifts over time

Three Schools 1 2 3

Section Perpective

Shared Programs 1 - Gym (associated with school 1) 2 - Theater (associated with school 2) 3 - Library (associated with school 3)

Interior Perspective


Theater Perspective


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Site: Holy Cross School

The Cultural Complex Prototype also makes efficient use of limited public resources by proposing to consolidate the efforts of several public institutions into a single complex. The core programs that make up this model are public libraries, community centers, public recreation centers, public schools, and health centers. This is also a concept that has been considered for other cities in recent years, and for Post-Katrina New Orleans, it is especially appropriate as a way to provide the social infrastructure necessary to encourage the return of residents so that neighborhoods can begin rebuilding. Anna Smith Kenoff sited her project on the campus of an existing Catholic school that had decided to relocate after Katrina. This was in the Holy Cross neighborhood along with Mississippi River that was not as damaged as the adjacent Ninth Ward, so she proposed that many of the existing campus buildings be reused along with a new building on the river side that would support existing plans to make a public park along the river levee. Christopher Lewis also sited his project along the Mississippi but in the industrial area just south of downtown that is being considered for redevelopment. The project occupied an existing warehouse with multiple programs that could serve as an anchor for the redevelopment.


Can a public school be public space? In the summer of 2006, the Holy Cross School, a private Catholic School for boys will abandon its historic campus in the Holy Cross neighborhood citing $10 million in damages due to Hurricane Katrina. This move will leave behind a massive void in the neighborhood both in terms of the physical campus, now occupying four entire blocks with flood damaged buildings, as well as the loss of critical programs of outreach and engagement with the residents of Holy Cross. This project seeks not only to fill the void that will be left by the Holy Cross School but also to serve as the public infrastructure necessary to reconnect the neighborhood to the riverfront and the potential levee park formed along the Mississippi by an earthen levee. The new facility would replace those school functions that were destroyed on the campus and make it possible for a public school to begin operating on the site, thereby maintaining the neighborhood’s steak in this property. It proposes that over time, the historic main building and the three adjacent salvageable buildings be restored to house a high school component that would share the new facilities provided by this middle school. As a cultural complex, it contains a public library that is shared with the school, as well as an auditorium, recreation facilities, meeting halls and classrooms that would be open to community use. This model embraces the opportunity to expand the social program of the public school to create a new type of public space for New Orleans that will be essential to rebuilding the social fabric of the city. It creates a spatial organization that makes it possible for a school to be a highly transparent, highly accessible public space as opposed to an isolated institution. Public and school facilities are organized around separate cores of circulation but are then rejoined by a unique series of connective spaces that span between them.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

school entry administration dining / social core school circulation core lecture hall art studio school library area reading rooms computer lab science lab studio classrooms school terraces public lobby public circulation core public library recreational center auditorium public terraces



up w















13 3


11 DN




9 4




8 UP


elevation: +6

floor 2

floor 3

levee park campus grade elevation: +3 ft. above sea level

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floor 1







11 w


primary shared zones controlled access


floor 4


floor 5




As this publication goes to press, the estimate for the cost of physical damages to the New Orleans public school facilities and infrastructure is over $800 million. Much of the effort to date has been to get school buildings that were not destroyed cleaned up so they are habitable. Twenty-six charters have been issued for new schools for the fall 2006 and another eighteen schools will be run by the Louisiana Department of Education, a state agency, through its Recovery School District. The total projected enrollment for K-12 for the fall is between 35 – 40% of the pre-Katrina enrollment*.

Site: Abandoned Waterfront Warehouse

*Recovery School District Legislatively Required Plan, June 7 2006 available at


How can wayfinding improve education? The aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita led many to question the wisdom behind the precise location of cities like New Orleans. The answer to that question is hinted at by the ageing shipping and industrial infrastructure of the riverfront. The economic incentive to build in this “precarious location” was far too attractive to ignore. At the time of New Orleans’s foundation, no other economic factor was considered as important for the future success and well-being of its inhabitants as a city’s proximity to the major trade lines of shipping routes. This project attempts to revitalize the abandoned waterfront along the Mississppi River by reinhabiting an industrial warehouse with a new cultural complex. It is the argument of this project that latent in what has become modern navigation - this highly complex and far-reaching system of virtually connecting peoples and continents - exists insight into the many facets of organizating a complex architectural program. the cluster

Navigation through a city, a school, and an education all benefit tremendously from some kind of wayfinding strategy, whether a simple street map, or more complex educational goals. A school based on a latent navigational logic will not only foster critical thinking and evaluation, but will expose its students to a dynamic architecture, which can be converted on demand to accommodate varying scales of a lesson plan: The student related to the teacher, the teacher to the class, the class to the cluster, the cluster to the school, and finally the school to the larger community.


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the disaster

In the aftermath of the tragedy which befell the costal cities of Mississippi and Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in late August 2005, and the failure of the levee system in New Orleans, effort has been made by people in that region and around the world to assess the new physical and social post-Katrina landscape, in an effort to provide the most valuable assistance to those in greatest need. In my case as a professional educator, from my position as an instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, this assessment resulted in the development of a graduate education and architecture course specifically designed to have students interpose themselves between the comforts of intellectual pursuits in the Northeastern United States, and the hurricane-scarred ruins of post-Katrina New Orleans. This pedagogical effort, which I jointly designed and instructed with my architectural colleague Scott Marble, produced the fine student work this text contains, and opened a new chapter in my scholarship in architecture and education. In order to productively inquire into the sphere of activity where these two fields – architecture and education – come together, we had decided, in the spring of 2005, to create the Design Lab for Learning Organizations, a research unit at GSAPP, whose mission was, among other things, to fill the academic gap where these two fields cross. The spaces in which teaching and learning happen, we believe, is an important and under-researched variable in education, and the research our lab will produce is intended to make that point clear in scholarly fashion. the landscape

It was only upon considering how a class blending the disparate fields of education and architecture could function that Scott and I hit upon the idea of looking at the condition of schools in post-Katrina New Orleans. Coming as it did at the beginning of the Fall of 2005 school semester for students in that region, striking kindergarten -12th grade schools whose national reputation for failure and neglect had long suggested the need for drastic overhaul, Katrina single-handedly did what no politician or administrator would have considered doing, and for all the right reasons: eliminating the New Orleans school system in total. The system, like much of the city, was inundated, its children left school-less, its teachers, administrators and staff left without their dis-functional institutions. the operation

Twenty-seven students – eleven from GSAPP and sixteen from Teachers College – came together in January of 2006 for a joint studio/seminar in education and architecture, the first taught by either institution. As a set of blended classes, separately run through both schools’ registrars, a suitable two hour time was set aside in the Education and schedule each week for all twenty-seven students to meet in seminar format. TC students were encouraged, but not Architecture: A Design for required, to attend studio. Across the five months of the class, each student was also required to inform fellow stuSchool Change in dents, in full-class presentation mode, on the development of their projects. Smaller discussion in groups of four Post-Katrina New Orleans to five students were also encouraged during seminar class time at intervals during the semester. While Scott and I delivered short lectures on occasion, we did not wish to exclusively encumber this group with our own knowledge base or viewpoints, wishing instead for the potent mix of students, cross-pollinated by information brought into Kelvin Shawn Sealey, Ed.D. the classroom by regular guests and by each others developing work, to organically create an evolving pedagogy. I should draw your attention here to the work of my students as represented by the school designs, policy and research papers which follow this brief essay. They are, in turn, followed by the full text of one of our student colleagues, Devon Ercolano Provan, whose paper on the potential and actuality of school/university partnerships in New Orleans is an excellent example of the caliber of work that emerged from our Architecture and Education course. The fifteen abstracts printed here, representing the full gamut of student work, will give the reader of this text an understanding of both the variety of challenges Teachers College students engaged in considering rejuvenating New Orleans school system, and the complexity that that rejuvenation will entail. In parallel fashion, architecture students from the class took on the task of rebuilding several different models of schools, taking care to consider the long, medium and short term needs of students, teachers and administrators. For example, a number of students entertained the idea of giving New Orleans residents immediate access to new temporary schools and educational material, locating those structure in the midst of devastation, but taking care to note the probable evolution of community structures within and around those temporary schools. Other students envisioned schools as part of community complexes, social centers capable of delivering a wide variety of services to students and their families, all within a single structure designed to serve multiple needs simultaneously. These abstracts and school designs are a potent reminder of all that is still required to “bring New Orleans back”, to use the mayors phrase, and as such, we hope they act as touchstones for those in a position to actually effect change for the better in New Orleans. conclusion

New Orleans will return, if in slightly different form, as will its learning institutions. What is hoped for but not yet known is the extent to which these institutions, at the k-12 level, will rise above their history and begin to produce results deserved by the students who will populate it. This desire, to remake the city’s schools in a way that enables them to produce students invested with the knowledge they need to live good and productive lives, was at the heart of my effort, with Scott Marble, to teach a class capable of making an impact on the redesign of the New Orleans k-12 school system. Both Scott and I are products of public schools, his in Texas and mine in New York City, and thus do we know what these school can produce when inhabited by children who wish to learn, teachers who wish to teach them, and administrators that insure that both groups get what they want and deserve. By creating a class which, in itself, was an experiment in teaching and learning, and within which each student was challenged to bring both knowledge and compassion to bear on the aftermath of a tragedy, we hoped that our two professions and our joint labors could, if only for a semester, be productively turned towards the benefit of a people and a place in need. Thus do we, together with our students, look forward to the rejuvenation of the New Orleans k-12 school system.



Jennifer Kittner Ben Freeman

Bill Bassett

Architecture as Pedagogy: Place-based education as a model for school design

The Open Classroom Philosophy as Applied to Urban Education

This study attempts to provide insight into the nascent link between place-based education theory, student empowerment, and school design. The investigation specifically seeks to unearth design principles for school reconstruction in post-Katrina New Orleans. Further, this paper attempts to address how the link between the basic needs of disadvantaged students and academic performance can be addressed through facility design. A core element of the research strategy was to look at ways in which schools seek to understand and teach the concepts of place-based education (and “education for sustainability”) through school design. Literature was reviewed on the fundamentals of place-based education, levels of human needs, and sustainable, “green” design. The report proceeds to describe the systems and philosophies used by four schools whose missions are closely tied to place-based, sustainability education. This study offers preliminary evidence that place-based education in school design is a viable alternative to traditional construction methods and may provide a means for elevating student learning potential for disadvantaged youth across the curriculum.

The purpose of this paper is to look at how the philosophy of an open classroom is applied to urban education. With the New Orleans Public School system being replaced with state managed charter schools, this paper proposes some elements of educational philosophy that should be implemented in the schools for the middle grades (5-8). The following proposal will investigate how student generated curriculum and the development of student advisories will affect the quality of education in an urban setting. By allowing students to have more of a partnership in shaping their curriculum, reducing the number of students in a classroom and developing advisory groups, the open classroom philosophy will help combat two of the largest problems in urban education: student motivation and a lack of belonging.

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The Right Way: Two Theories of Moral Development and how they apply to a New Orleans Charter School Before Hurricane Katrina, the Orleans Parish school system served around 56,000 students, with 79 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch. The statistics show that the system was failing its underserved population. Now in the rebuilding process, the majority of the re-opened schools seem to be restructuring as charter institutions, meaning that individual school officials will have authority over their curriculum, staffing, and budget. KIPP Believe is one such charter school that will be opening its doors in a couple of months to the underserved New Orleans student population. Adam Meinig, a fellow of the School Leadership Program, has crafted his management and culture plan for KIPP Believe. He hopes that students will “learn to be revolutionaries. But he also realizes that this will not necessarily be achieved through strict academic instruction. That said, Meinig hopes to create students of high moral fiber from a school culture reflective on such norms. As Meinig is looking at best practices in the field of moral development, this paper will look at two theories, one by Lawrence Kohlberg and the other by Carol Gilligan, as a foundation for his application. It will then look at one school that employs Kohlberg’s method, recommendations from a former charter school principal, and then another initiative by the University of Connecticut influenced by Kohlberg. This paper hopes to build on Meinig’s school plan as well as provide recommendations for further advancement.



Joe Cardenas Janice Murabayashi

Collaborative Design and School Construction in New Orleans In the last fifty years in particular, it has become increasingly popular for architects and planners of public projects and schools to involve a very wide variety of constituents in the design process. When it comes to school design (both public and private), that has meant the involvement of audiences from the administrators who contract with the firm to the faculty, staff, current and former students, parents and community members who will use the space. In fact, a number of schools of architecture and architectural firms explicitly advertise their focus on such a design approach. Some of these organizations explain this interest in collaborative design by emphasizing the desire to implement a democratic process, while others center around the general belief that “many heads are better than one.” This paper investigates the question, “Does collaborative design really improve schools?” with a corollary question, “Is collaborative design the best approach for New Orleans public schools?” In the case of New Orleans, which has a history of undemocratic decision-making processes that have resulted in a persistent state of disenfranchisement for certain constituencies, collaborative school design may go a long way in rebuilding the city literally and symbolically. However, given the unique repopulation issues facing the city, this history of decisions made in isolation, as well as the need to rebuild in a timely fashion, a “full” collaborative process may not be ideal. It is not clear that collaborative design is the best approach for school and government officials as they go about their work in repairing damaged schools and constructing new ones. On balance, collaborative design appears to be a legitimate approach with proven results. But it requires time, energy and other resources that are sometimes trying under even the best of circumstances. In theory, there is no doubt that collaborative design could work in New Orleans. Whether it can be effectively implemented in practice is another matter, however. Unfortunately, there are some risks to doing collaborative design poorly, including the cynicism that could grow out of a process that becomes purely symbolic or placatory instead of authentic. Fortunately, such decisions do not need to be made right away; true collaborative design will not work for the schools that are already up and running or the schools that will open very soon. And ultimately, only the residents and leaders of New Orleans can and should decide what is appropriate for them.

Laying Spiritual Foundations in Post Katrina’s New Orleans: Teaching the Sense of the Sacred through a School’s Chapel Design The purpose of this study is to provide the New Orleans Catholic School System with a chapel prototype for the design and construction of new religious spaces to replace those destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In order to situate this prototype in a historical, educational, religious, and architectural framework, the study first provides an overview of the Catholic school system both in general terms and as it stands in today’s New Orleans. The study then summarizes Catholic theology and philosophy regarding religious art and how it reflects on three existing chapels of recent construction. The final section of the study centers on the prototype itself and how it may be a part of the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans. This prototype was originally designed for The Heights School, an independent, Catholic, 3-12 school in Potomac, MD.

Marie Reed

School Culture and School Change: A New Future for New Orleans’ New Schools In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, educators and policy-makers have tried to imagine a new future for the city and for the city’s schools. They have chosen a networked charter school model for Orleans parish in the hopes that this model will move forward with efficiency and innovation. As the leaders of New Orleans strive to rebuild their schools—both educationally and architecturally—what must they consider in order to ensure the success of this massive reform? One part of the answer to this question resides in the most illusive and intangible aspects of a school: its culture. This essay explores current research on school and organizational culture. It presents the argument that school culture can and does affect student achievement and school success in both positive and negative ways. By reviewing relevant research on school culture, the essay makes some specific recommendations for future school leaders who hope to establish healthy school cultures within New Orleans’ schools. This paper also strives to make relevant connections between the buildings in which students learn and the cultures in which they learn best. In an attempt to provide some useful premises on which the new charter schools can be architecturally designed, this paper tries to synthesize what is known about healthy school cultures and its relationship to educational spaces.



Devon Ercolano Provan Cara Furman

A Proposal for Progressive Public Schooling in New Orleans: Citizenship Training to Build a Democratic Nation Visiting New Orleans this spring I was first struck by the havoc and devastation reaped by a natural disaster. Nevertheless, quickly, I became perhaps further disturbed by the fact that, aside from very local work, there was very little effort, particularly governmental, to rebuild. This greatly upsets me in terms of New Orleans but terrifies me as what I see as a national trend — in privatizing everything from healthcare to schools, America is losing a sense (if it ever had one) of being a nation with a collective responsibility for all. Seeing the schools both as a public need that needs addressing and a place where Americans might become the kind of citizens who reach out to each other, I explored what type of school system might benefit citizens and promote citizenship in New Orleans. I drew from the progressive model where students, above all, are encouraged to be thoughtful players in the world around them. Trying to find a school model that would specifically benefit the people of New Orleans as well as the nation, I looked specifically at the Central Park East schools in New York: very successful, progressive, public, schools that serve mostly low income minority students. Ultimately, in showing how those schools had successfully served their parent and teacher communities, I hope that I was able to provide a model for how progressive education can be successfully implemented in public schools.

Deanna Belcher

New Orleans Communities & Community Schools

School/University Partnerships: Shared Responsibility for Ensuring Social Mobility in PostKatrina New Orleans

The dramatic images of social injustice following Hurricane Katrina in many ways reflected the less dramatic and more persistent social inequities that have plagued New Orleans throughout its history. Perhaps the greatest racial and socio-economic discrimination has been found in the K-12 education system. The overwhelming majority of low-income and minority students in New Orleans have been receiving an education that promises them very little opportunity for advancement. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to establish a new public school system that breaks down barriers to social and economic prosperity. Achieving this goal will demand a significant departure from the structures that were in place prior to the storm and a community-wide institutional commitment to address the educational needs of the disenfranchised youth. To that end, I consider the possibility of establishing formalized partnerships between New Orleans higher education institutions and the public school system to provide a college-preparatory curriculum to a diverse student body in the hopes of improving access to higher education, which, as research suggests, has the potential to increase socio-economic mobility among underprivileged populations. The potential for shared resources in school/university partnerships, both physical and human, would be particularly valuable in a post-disaster situation. Analyzing the current national and local initiatives to more closely align the K-12 and higher education systems and considering the particuI propose that New Orleans: lar challenges in post-Katrina New Orleans, I propose one possible model for partnerships and 1. Put new schools in strategic locations, to be sure they are accessible to a diverse student body, raise questions for continued research. or realign the cachement areas around existing schools to include diverse neighborhoods; The catastrophic hurricane season in 2005 has provided the people of New Orleans with an opportunity to reclaim their educational system and provide public schools that will not only be good for their children, but for the city as a whole. With excellent schools, they have the opportunity to lure people back to Orleans Parish, and to entice newcomers. For five to ten years the State of Louisiana will be essentially running the city’s schools, through a charter system. But this marketdriven system is not the long-range solution for a modern American city, committed to the democratic principle of educating its youth for of meaningful participation in society. The next decade is a time that New Orleans can spend thoughtfully planning its schools, with a goal of providing places where true learning communities can grow and thrive, where all students can mature into responsible adults, able to flourish in our global society. I believe that New Orleans can have diverse community schools in Kindergarten through 12th Grade, and can accomplish this goal in a constructive process, taking place over the next five to ten years. If we empower schools to serve a diverse group of students and families, vibrant learning communities can be established. If we involve the members of each community in the process of designing, or re-designing its school, public appreciation of, and ownership of, the schools will increase.

2. Plan for each school to be a center of the neighborhoods it will serve; and 3. Invite the community at large to participate in designing or redesigning the physical space of the school.

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Jeremy Robbins Noah Bopp

Sarah Lohnes

Rousseau and New Orleans: An Interdisciplinary Thought Experiment

Reflections on a Culturally Relevant Pedagogy of Place in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Jean-Jacques Rousseau holds a unique and seminal position in the history of progressive education. Yet the earnest, often-prescient prose of Emile, his pedagogical masterpiece, is little more than a background whisper in the hubbub of 21st century educational reform. Using the current crisis of education in post-Katrina New Orleans as a case study, this paper—a “thought experiment” of sorts—shows that, more than ever, Rousseau has something to offer both educators and architects as they rebuild their broken Gulf Coast schoolhouses. The paper begins with an overview of the salient features of Rousseau’s pedagogy, offers specific design guidance from his educational texts, and then notes several possible implications for school architecture in New Orleans.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the coast of Louisiana, unleashing vast amounts of devastation on the city of New Orleans. The destruction was compounded soon after by the failure of the levees that were built to protect the city from major flooding. In the media and elsewhere, the hurricane and its aftermath, for all its devastation, are described as having opened a window of opportunity to rethink the way education is done in the New Orleans public schools. The public school system had been in a state of crisis for several years leading up to the hurricane, led by a New Orleans School Board often described as corrupt and failing the students of New Orleans public schools, the majority of whom are African-American. After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana State Department of Education invoked a 2003 law that provided it with the power to take over “failed” schools, schools that had been labeled as below acceptable standards for four years in a row. In New Orleans, more than 100 schools deemed failing were placed in a Recovery School District, overseen by the state. At the same time, the Bring New Orleans Back education committee recommended a new model for the school system, one that decentralized power and relied extensively on charter schools for the first few years of the hurricane recovery effort. Within this context of devastation, change and opportunity, this paper explores the potential of a pedagogical framework that I am terming culturally relevant pedagogy of place to provide teachers and students in postKatrina New Orleans with a means of critically approaching the cultural and ecological reality of New Orleans past, present, and future. The paper primarily focuses on addressing two questions: What is a culturally relevant pedagogy of place, and why should it be implemented in New Orleans schools? Drawing on the literatures of culturally relevant pedagogy and place-based education, I argue that the two traditions are complementary, and offer students and teachers a critical framework for investigating culture and place in New Orleans. A third question touches briefly on issues of design, asking: What do we need to consider in designing a space that enables culturally relevant pedagogy of place? Implications for thinking about the programmatic spaces of culturally relevant pedagogy of place in New Orleans are also discussed.

Private Education for the Public Good: A Call for New Independent Schools in New Orleans This research paper explores the roles of charter schools and independent schools in American education, and the differences between such schools. Within this comparative framework, three distinct models of independent schools found in Harlem are examined: Harlem Episcopal School, The Children’s Storefront, and The School at Columbia. This paper will argue why new independent schools should play a more significant role in the reconstruction and redesign of the New Orleans educational system.



Emily Morgan

History of Schools in New Orleans: Parallel Lives and Efforts at Desgregation of Catholic and Private Schools The Catholic School network in New Orleans is one of the largest in the country. African Americans constituted a large portion of the Catholic community in New Orleans. Before the1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, parochial schools in New Orleans educated 75,000 children, while the public schools educated a total of 94,000 children. The Archdiocese of New Orleans was divided into 148 parishes, each with its own church and school. The Brown decision had strong implications for New Orleans, particularly with regard to the racial makeup of its schools. In response to the ruling, in order to “keep the peace”, the New Orleans legislature passed laws reaffirming and requiring segregation in its public schools. However, the Catholic community in New Orleans had an unusually progressive leader and aimed to integrate its schools in the future. The Archbishop of New Orleans, Joseph Francis Rummel, believed that segregation was against the Catholic belief of “everyone as God’s child” and had thoughts of integrating catholic schools even before 1954. After the Brown decision, he commissioned a committee to investigate the problems with integration of public schools and its relevance to the Archdiocese. Amidst strong opposition, in March of 1962 Archbishop Rummel ordered full desegregation of New Orleans parochial schools for the upcoming school year. At that time, parochial schools enrolled 50% of the white population in New Orleans. Despite some attrition to public schools as a result of Rummel’s decision, by 1964 Catholic schools in New Orleans were almost completely integrated. New Orleans’ private schools, unlike the parochial schools, were not forced to desegregate. After the Federal District Judge declared that New Orleans’ public schools needed to desegregate more rapidly, these private schools seemed to be a safe haven for whites and wealthy blacks, due to their selective admissions processes and costly tuitions. A system of reverse segregation occurred within these schools, as they consisted predominantly of white students with a miniscule percentage of minority students. This tendency, while making slight improvements, continues today, as only about 20% of the student body in most non-parochial private schools consists of minority students.

Rebekka Schnell

Barbara Jenn

Educational Spaces and Living Spaces: Can They Coincide?

The Reggio Emilia Approach: A Model for School Design

According to the French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard, “all really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home” (p. 5, 1964). If Bachelard’s premise is taken as truth, it seems natural to design a space where education and living coexist. By discussing the poetic space of a house, Bachelard explains further that the house is typically a constant in a person’s life. By integrating the person’s past, present and future experiences, “the house thrusts aside contingencies, its councils of continuity are unceasing. Without it, man would be a dispersed being” (Bachelard, p. 7, 1964). So the house and this idea of home, bring cohesion and continuity into a person’s life—two things that are essential in the learning process. The house is a constant in a person’s life, just as education can be a constant. Furthermore, Bachelard speaks of the house protecting the dreamer and allowing dreams to occur in peace. This is similar to the relationship of educators protecting students and encouraging their learning free from judgment and negativity. This paper aims to take a look at the relationship between education space and living space. Based on the recent success of livinglearning programs on college campuses, perhaps a similar program could be created outside of the college environment. Specifically looking at post-Katrina New Orleans, it is the hope that a program could be utilized to get residents back to the city and provide affordable housing and quality education for all.

This study asks the question: Can the Reggio Emilia model of schooling provide a prototype for a jointly realized educational and architectural vision in an American urban school? If so, this could indicate a possible model to apply as New Orleans looks for direction on rebuilding/restructuring its schools post-Hurricane Katrina. Although the Reggio model evolved in the specific culture and place of Reggio Emilia, Italy, many facets of Reggio have been successfully transplanted to schools worldwide. The Reggio Emilia approach embraces specific teaching principles and practices incorporating the environment as the “third teacher.” Space is seen as important in communicating values. It’s beautiful design and order have an identity and purpose to draw students into its rich potential. Good materials are carefully presented to encourage exploration. Natural objects are artfully arranged and available for observation, touching and manipulation. The Reggio Approach, originated in Italy, has spread with many variations worldwide, including to public programs in the United States. This project provides a brief overview of the Reggio Approach and how that approach thoughtfully incorporates environmental design. It looks at how Reggio has been adapted in American schools, focusing on one specific location, Agape, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin public “choice” school. In considering Reggio as a possible model for New Orleans school rebuilding, Agape was chosen for reasons including similarity of populations served by New Orleans and Milwaukee Public schools, the longevity of the MPS choice/voucher system and Agape’s participation in that system, and the researcher’s familiarity with the MPS district. Through a site visit and interviews with Agape school administrators, observations indicate Agape’s physical environment is shaped by Reggio ideas. However, no significant evidence was found documenting a link of that physical environment with Reggio pedagogical principles. Evidence sought included project work, artwork/visual expressions, documentation boards and student engagement in activities. The paper concludes that Agape is not a successful model demonstrating adaptation of Reggio to an American public school. However, given Reggio’s longstanding successes elsewhere, the paper concludes that the singular situation of Agape does not discount the applicability of successful Reggio approaches to U.S. schools, and specifically to the New Orleans schools.

See for full papers.



Little more than eight months ago, the world watched as Hurricane Katrina neared the Gulf Coast and predictions of massive destruction filled our newspapers and television screens. There seemed to be little doubt that New Orleans would be devastated by the storm, but no one could have predicted the unnatural disaster that followed. The inadequate response of local, state and federal authorities in the days and weeks immediately following the storm spawned a fevered debate about national priorities and social injustices as thousands of mostly African-American men, women and children suffered without food, water, or shelter, not knowing when their nightmare would end. These were dramatic images, in many ways reflecting the less dramatic and more persistent social inequities that have plagued New Orleans throughout its history. With the horrific devastation of Katrina comes an opportunity to address these inequities as new structures and systems are put in place. While it is tempting and often necessary to implement short-term solutions in a post-disaster situation, the long-term health and prosperity of the city will be determined by the decisions that are made today, particularly in the reestablishment of the public school system. There may be several possible ways of ensuring success in the new education system, but I would argue that the main goal of the new system must be to break down barriers to social and economic prosperity and provide equal opportunity, encouragement and resources to all citizens for personal and intellectual development. To that end, I consider the possibility of establishing formalized partnerships between New Orleans higher education institutions and the public school system to provide a college-preparatory curriculum to a diverse student body in the hopes of improving access to higher education as a means of increasing socio-economic mobility among underprivileged populations. The pre-Katrina demographic statistics are quite harrowing. In 2005 (Table 1), 28% of the overall population in New Orleans was living below the poverty line, more than two times the national rate, with more than 40% of those under the age of 18 living below the poverty line, 2.5 times the national rate. These numbers begin to take on new meaning when we look at the ethnicity of the population. As Table 2 indicates, 68% of New Orleans’ pre-Katrina population was black, compared with less than one eighth of the national population. These figures support what has become a widely-accepted understanding: that race and class are intimately connected in this country. In New Orleans, perhaps the greatest racial and socio-economic inequities can be seen in the public school system. In the 2003-2004 school year (Table 3), approximately 86% of black students attended the notoriously failing public schools of New Orleans, joined by only 15% of white students. In the following year (Table 4), 63% of Orleans Parish public schools were labeled “academically unacceptable,” the lowest possible district performance label, as compared with only 12% of schools in the state in that category. The overwhelming majority of black School/University students in New Orleans have been receiving an education that promises them very little opportunity for advancement. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to establish a new public Partnerships: Shared school system that breaks down barriers to social and economic prosperity. responsibility for ensuring Access to higher education is a significant factor in achieving socio-economic mobility. Each individual social mobility in year of schooling beyond the high school diploma has been shown to deliver a 10% advantage in economic return, with a bachelor’s degree providing a 12-15% advantage over the same amount of schooling with no degree (PasPost-Katrina New Orleans carella & Terenzini, 2005). Additionally, employment rates and occupational status are higher among persons with a bachelor’s degree, which certainly contributes to the advantage in economic return (Pascarella & Terenzini, Devon Ercolano Provan 2005). It has also been suggested that higher education affords people a more enlightened view of the world, having the potential to reduce prejudice and increase tolerance (Jackman & Muha, 1984). Yet, despite the dramatic rise in number and type of postsecondary institutions in recent years, there are vast differences in access to higher education by class and race (Table 5). Leading causes of unequal access to higher education include differences in educational expectations, unequal academic and social qualifications, unequal access to information about college and the inability to pay, to name just a few. Many of these factors often compound each other, creating a strong cyclical force working against a student’s chances of success. Families with more financial resources can afford to pay for SAT prep courses, for example, and for their children to take the test multiple times, increasing their likelihood of achieving a high score and thus increasing their academic qualifications. The 1988-1994 National Education Longitudinal Study (Table 6) found that less than 7% of students in the lowest quartile in socio-economic status scored in the highest test quartile (as opposed to 50% in the highest socio-economic bracket) and, similarly, less than 8% of black students scored in the highest test quartile (as opposed to almost 32% of white students). Along the same lines, students with lower socio-economic status report having fewer sources of information about college, with information coming primarily from high school counselors, as opposed to students with higher socio-economic status who report having a variety of sources, such as parents, siblings, neighbors and other role models who have gone to college, as well as the internet and direct mail sent from colleges based on their test scores (McDonough, 1998). According to one study, low socio-economic status twelfth graders have 33.4% less information about college than their high socio-economic status counterparts (Cabrera & La Nasa, 2001). There is no doubt that a lack of information could lead to lower educational expectations and qualifications. AfricanAmericans are disadvantaged in all of these cases because of the disproportionately lower socio-economic status of African-American households in the United States (Roscigno, 1998). While several factors need to come together to fully address these concerns, such as federal and state policy initiatives to ensure need-based financial aid and the continued use of affirmative action in college admissions, many of the problems could be solved by more closely aligning the K-12 education system with institutions of higher education, encouraging a shared responsibility for ensuring success among our nation’s underprivileged population. There have been several initiatives to establish these connections in recent years, the most notable being the Middle College designed by Janet E. Lieberman and the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI) funded primarily by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which builds directly upon the Middle College program. It is useful to examine both initiatives as we think about rebuilding the education system in New Orleans. In the simplest terms, Middle College is a high school on a college campus. Like other public high schools, it serves students in grades 9-12 and is primarily funded by the board of education. Also like other high schools, its teachers are secondary education teachers and it fulfills high school curriculum requirements. However, it does



have several distinct features that set it apart from traditional high schools. Some of the key features, summarized from a report written by Lieberman (2004), include the following: total enrollment is limited to 450 students (fitting the current definition of a “small school”); the high school is located on a college campus and shares facilities, like the gym, cafeteria and library; the high school functions on a college schedule, allowing longer class times; high school faculty gain privileges of college faculty, with better facilities, professional respect and the opportunity to teach college courses; and students receive regular peer and group counseling in addition to time with the professional counselors. Based on data from New York City, where Middle College began, the results have been quite impressive. For the period of 1990-2000, 97% of students stayed in school, compared to 70% in the city as a whole. 87% graduated and 90% of those graduates went on to college (Lieberman, 2004). The idea for the ECHSI grew out of Middle College, as students began to take college courses before they finished high school. In the 1999- 2000 school year, 41% of Middle College students nationwide enrolled in college classes, with a 97% pass rate, higher than that of the regular college freshman cohort (Lieberman, 2004). Lieberman and other Middle College leaders, with a grant from the Ford Foundation, piloted the first “Early College,” which incorporated all of the features of Middle College listed above, plus new features like a thirteenth year to allow for college level courses, in order to emphasize a different goal, namely “more intensive collaboration between secondary and higher education and an articulated, accelerated academic trajectory” (Lieberman, 2004, p. 2). In 2002, the ECHSI exploded when The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation got involved. Together with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, they have provided $120 million to date for school planning and start-up costs, with 71 schools open as of September 2005 serving almost 12,000 students. By 2011, 166 schools are expected to be open, serving more than 66,000 students (Jobs for the Future, 2005). All early college high schools are small schools that aim to serve a student population that has been underrepresented in postsecondary education, mainly low-income and minority students, and share a set of Core Principles laid out by The Gates Foundation. The Core Principles are (“ECHSI Core Principles,” p. 4): students earn an associate’s degree or two years of credit toward the baccalaureate while in high school; mastery and competence are rewarded with enrollment in college-level courses; the years to a postsecondary degree are compressed; and the middle grades are included, or there is outreach to middle-grade students, to promote academic preparation and awareness of the Early College High School option. While all early college high schools share these characteristics and have a formalized partnership with an institution of higher education, there are several different models for the school/university partnership and there are varying costs and benefits associated with each (Webb, 2004). One model is to bring college courses, taught by college faculty or adjuncts, to the high school as part of a five-year curriculum, which is mostly found in schools without close proximity to a college campus. A second model is a school on the campus of a two-year college, and a third model is a school on the campus of a four-year university. Both of these models have the added benefit of providing visual access and physical immersion into the college environment for high school students, something advocates of the ECHSI call the “power of place” (Webb, 2004, p. 7), but they can take on many different curricular models. Middle college early college high schools are also located on the campuses of two-year colleges, but they employ a “highly specified academic and student support model,” established by the Middle College National Consortium (Webb, 2004, p. 7). The fifth model is a charter early college high school, in which college courses may occur in the high school or on a college campus. Enrollment of the ECHSI target student population presents a unique challenge in this model because students are selected by lottery (Webb, 2004). Because they are still in their infancy, true costs of running an early college high school at full capacity have not yet been calculated (Webb, 2004); but overall the projected cost of planning and implementation of early college high schools may not be that different from the cost of traditional high schools (Table 7). The major additional costs for early college high schools come from the significant coordination needed between the high school and the postsecondary institution during the planning phase and the added cost of the college courses, including tuition, textbooks and high faculty salaries (Webb, 2004). Challenges associated with the early college model include the requirement of top-down support from college administration and incentives for faculty involvement (American Institutes for Research & SRI International, 2006), the challenge of maintaining “high expectations” when working with an underprepared student population, the difficulty of coordinating governmental funding efforts for secondary and postsecondary education, and the difference in working conditions and union rules for high school and college faculty (Lieberman, 2004). Despite these challenges, there is a strong rationale for the success of the Early College High School Initiative. Lieberman argues that learning should be a “continuous process,” following the natural, uninterrupted process of “intellectual maturation,” with coordination between high school and college curriculum providing a smooth transition (Lieberman, 2004, p. 3), which I would argue is especially important for the types of students early college high schools aim to serve. She also asserts that “challenge, both academic and personal, is a strong motivator for achievement” and that “positive role models improve behavior” (Lieberman, 2004, p. 3). While the initiative is too young to have outcome statistics for graduation and college entrance rates, both of which it promises to increase, there is qualitative evidence that the physical location of the school on a college campus promotes a college-going culture and higher self-esteem, with students becoming more responsible for themselves and their own learning (American Institutes for Research & SRI International, 2006). Perhaps most important, in terms of getting buy-in from key stakeholders, is the possibility that early college high schools could reduce the overall cost of education in this country by reducing the number of years to degree, allowing students to enter the workforce and become wage earners sooner, which has a positive effect on the economy (Lieberman, 2004). Although it is not a perfect system yet, the ECHSI may be one of the few powerful mechanisms for positive change in our education system in the United States, making a strong statement about the importance of investing in our underprivileged youth and creating opportunities for their success. Dillard University, an historically black university in New Orleans, was one of the first higher education institutions chosen for the Early College High School Initiative in 2002, supported by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF), one of the initiative’s intermediary organizations. According to Robert



Baird, Vice President for School-University Partnerships at WWNFF, this early college high school, called Gilbert Academy, was not without its problems (personal communication, April 28, 2006). The University and the school district were given a grant to cover 12-18 months of planning and the first few years of implementation, and they had a dual responsibility to put into practice the Core Principles and other guidelines of the ECHSI. At one point, grant funds were withheld because key benchmarks were not being met. Problems included inadequate space, lack of necessary technology and infrastructure (i.e. no computers for the math and technology program) and rotating principals, which were the primary responsibilities of the Orleans Parish School Board, and an unclear sense of academic rigor for high school students in the college courses, which was the primary responsibility of Dillard University (R. Baird, personal communication, April 28, 2006). In its second year, the school was moved to a better facility and a more experienced principal was hired. Unfortunately, just as the school started to turn around, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, leaving Dillard University’s campus and the school building that housed Gilbert Academy badly damaged. Until Dillard is fully operational again, it is unlikely that they will have the capacity to provide the necessary support, and even then, careful steps would need to be taken to avoid a repeat of the early problems facing Gilbert Academy (R. Baird, personal communication, April 28, 2006). Although Dillard has been the only university in New Orleans to establish an early college high school so far, the University of New Orleans and Tulane University have established different models for partnerships with schools. The University of New Orleans started a Charter School Initiative in their College of Education and Human Development, and in July 2004, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education granted UNO a Type V Charter to take over Pierre A. Capdau Middle School, a formerly failing middle school in the Orleans Parish public school system (“Pierre A. Capdau Charter School,” 2004). The University of New Orleans was the first institution to take over a school in the state following the 2003 amendment providing for such takeovers, promising to increase the school’s performance score by at least 20 points in five years (“Pierre A. Capdau Charter School,” 2004). They made massive renovations to the inadequate school building and expanded the school to include grades K-8 (R. Sanders, personal communication, May 4, 2006). The students in the original middle school were given priority but not guaranteed spots in the new school, and the new student population was chosen by the normal charter lottery system (Pierre A. Capdau Charter School, 2004). In the spring of 2005, the University was granted a second Type V Charter to take over Medard H. Nelson Elementary School (“Capdau-UNO Charter,” 2005). Both schools have been reopened since the storm (“Public School Openings,” 2005). The University of New Orleans promises to “establish improved educational opportunities for high need communities” as part of their College of Education and Human Development Strategic Plan 2005-2010 (p. 1), and their Charter School Initiative falls in this category. However, according to one spokesperson for local educators, UNO’s Charter School Initiative is primarily self-serving in that its main purpose is to provide schooling for the children of their own faculty and opportunities for fieldwork experience for their students (R. Sanders, personal communication, May 4, 2006). Tulane University followed suit after Hurricane Katrina by partnering with Lusher Elementary and Middle School to establish a new K-12 charter school. Tulane provided $1.5 million, which was matched by $1.75 million from the state, and has agreed to help raise money for the renovation of the school building (Strecker, 2005). Tulane faculty were involved in developing a “healing curriculum” for the school to help students cope with the trauma of Hurricane Katrina (Ostrom, 2006). As part of the charter, the children of Tulane faculty and staff were given spots at the school for the spring term – 400 of the school’s 900 current students are affiliated with Tulane (Travis, 2006). Lusher had the highest academic ranking in the school district prior to the storm and was in danger of remaining closed due to damage to its facilities; Tulane University was concerned about how to get its faculty back without schools for their children. The partnership enabled both institutions to open their doors in January 2006. While all efforts among higher education institutions to support the K-12 school system in New Orleans are positive in some way, the existing models do not address the pervasive racial and socio-economic inequities in the system. Even the model that tried encountered serious difficulty at the level of the School Board. Perhaps the Early College High School Initiative poses too many challenges for the current environment in New Orleans. With a school board known for its corrupt leadership and financial mismanagement, the increased costs associated with the college courses and the level of commitment and collaboration needed from all parties to implement the accelerated curriculum might not be feasible. However, the Middle College model presents a less complicated partnership by removing the college credit but keeping the college-preparatory curriculum and the “power of place” that promotes a college-going culture among underprivileged populations. In addition, putting a high school on a college campus (either two-year or four-year) has the potential benefit of shared resources, both physical and human, which is especially valuable in a post-disaster situation. Middle Colleges also have the potential to transition into early college high schools at a later time if all of the necessary supports are in place. The problems facing the education system in New Orleans will not be solved, however, by any single school/university partnership. What is needed is a communitywide institutional commitment to challenge what has been a long-standing system of power that disenfranchises low-income and minority families in New Orleans. According to Raynard Sanders – retired Orleans Parish high school principal, current interim director of the education program at Southern University at New Orleans, and long-time local volunteer and spokesperson for education reform – the post-Katrina education system promises to be even more divisive than it was prior to the storm. Rather than seizing this opportunity to make a difference, those in power are pushing their own agendas and setting up an exclusive system that has left poor children on the street (R. Sanders, personal communication, May 3, 2006). According to Sanders, there are 4,000 children currently in New Orleans without schools, and there are buildings that are ready to be opened (personal communication, May 3, 2006). The insistence on a charter system at the local and state level has created obstacles for neighborhoods that want to open schools but do not have the financial and social capital to raise the necessary funds (R. Sanders, personal communication, May 3, 2006). As a permanent district-wide solution, the charter model may widen the socio-economic divide as those schools with financial stability, political support and social capital flourish while those without those resources will continue to fail (R. Sanders, personal communication, May 3, 2006).



Higher education institutions are in the unique position of having power in the community and a mission of bettering society. The University of New Orleans aims to provide, as part of its mission, “essential support for the educational, economic, cultural, and social well being of the culturally rich and diverse New Orleans metropolitan area” ( Tulane University’s mission, taken from their website, is to be “in service to the public…truly committed to building and renewing the communities in which its people live and work” ( As major employers and property owners, higher education institutions as a whole are an important player in the local economy. They bring temporary residents each year who eat at restaurants, buy gas, rent apartments, and go to the movies, as well as a cadre of educated permanent residents who contribute to society. If they choose to support a truly equitable school system, together they could exert a significant amount of pressure on the Orleans Parish School Board and garner substantial political support. Leading by example with school/university partnerships that serve a population that has historically been ignored by the system could have a profound effect in the long run. The question that remains, which is beyond the scope of this paper, is whether or not the current climate of higher education will support this kind of proposition. In New Orleans, institutions are currently experiencing their own fiscal crises and may not be able to consider supporting another institution at this time. However, inequities existed in the school system prior to the storm and higher educations institutions remained virtually uninvolved, which suggests a larger issue. As state and federal support for higher education stagnates, institutions are forced to find ways to cut costs and search for alternate revenue sources, like higher tuition, technology transfer or fundraising. The result of this shift has been described as a move away from a “public good” model to an “academic capitalism” model (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004), in which the emphasis has changed from the liberal education of the democratic citizen to the development of ideas or products that are directly transferable to the economy. Although there is rhetoric about the importance of providing access to underprivileged populations, academic capitalism may get in the way of institutions upholding these values. Further research is needed to determine if school/university partnerships across the country will survive the shift, but I would argue that perhaps they could play a role in slowing down or even reversing the trend towards academic capitalism. Frank Newman underscores the importance of public commitment to an equitable education system when he writes (2000): Education, including higher education, plays a key role in determining one’s opportunity for upward mobility, and civic and workforce participation. The public, therefore, needs to decide what form of democratic society it desires and then fashion a higher education system to achieve that end. What is needed is not merely a rhetorical commitment but dedication to a practical, functional system that is open to all motivated individuals. Today, economic boom or not, it is access to higher education that determines who participates fully in society.

The current circumstances in New Orleans call for action outside the normal realm of institutional priorities and responsibilities. It is a rare and daunting opportunity to be able to build a new city from the ground up. If ever there were a chance to affect dramatic change for the better, it is now. In addition to short-term solutions, the city of New Orleans needs a long-term strategy for closing the racial and socio-economic divide that has plagued the city throughout its history, and higher education institutions have the opportunity to contribute in a major way and the power to make a real difference. This paper was originally written for a seminar taught by Kelvin Sealey and Scott Marble in the Spring of 2006 entitled Experiments in Content: Architecture and Education. references American Institutes for Research & SRI International (2006). Evaluation of Early College High School Initiative: 2003-2005. Retrieved April 29, 2006, from Early College High School Initiative Web site: Cabrera, A. & La Nasa, S. (2001). On the Path to College: Three Critical Tasks Facing America’s Disadvantaged. Research in Higher Education, 42(2), 119-149. Capdau-UNO Charter School to reopen in January (2005, December 8). Retrieved on April 22, 2006, from BizNewOrleans Web site: Early College High School Initiative: Core Principles. Retrieved May 3, 2006, from Early College High School Initiative Web site: Hossler, D., Schmit, J. & Vesper, N. (1999). Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence Decisions Students Make. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press. Jackman, M. & Muha, M. (1984). Education and Intergroup Attitudes: Moral Enlightenment, Democratic Commitment or Ideological Refinement? American Sociological Review, 49, 751-769. Jobs for the Future (2005). The Early College High School Initiative By the Numbers. Retrieved May 3, 2006, from Early College High School Initiative Web site: Lieberman, J. (2004). The Early College High School Concept: Requisites for Success. Retrieved April 28, 2006, from Early College High School Initiative Web site: Louisiana Department of Education (2006). 2004-2005 District Composite Report: Orleans Parish. Louisiana Department of Education (2005). 2003-2004 Annual Financial and Statistical Report: 155th Edition. McDonough, P. (1998). Structuring College Opportunities: A Cross-Case Analysis of Organizational Cultures, Climates, and Habiti. In Torres & Mitchell (Eds.), Sociology of Education (pp. 181-210). Newman, F. (2000). Saving higher education’s soul. Change, 32(5), 16-23. Ostram, D. (2006, April 4). Lusher Curriculum Focuses on Recovery and Healing. WGNO. Retrieved April 9, 2006 from: wgno-lusherrecovery040406,0,1032467.story?coll=wgnohome- 2 Pascarella, E. & Terenzini, P. (2005). How College Affects Students: A Third Decade of Research, (2d ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Pierre A. Capdau Charter School (2004). Retrieved March 23, 2006, from University of New Orleans Web site: Public School Openings Scheduled for Spring 2006 in Orleans Parish (2005). Retrieved March 23, 2006, from New Orleans Public Schools Web site: Roscigno, V. (1998). Race and the Reproduction of Educational Disadvantage. Social Forces,76(3), 1033-1060. Slaughter, S. and Rhoades, G. (2004). Academic Capitalism and the New Economy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press. Strecker, M. (2005, October 6). Tulane University and Lusher to Launch Charter School. The New Wave. Retrieved April 9, 2006 from Tulane University Web site: Travis, M.A. (2006, February 1). Lusher Opens in Partnership with Tulane. Tulane University Magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2006 from Tulane University Web site: University of New Orleans College of Education and Human Development: Strategic Plan: 2005-2010. Retrieved May 4, 2006 from University of New Orleans Web site: Webb, M. (2004). What is the Cost of Planning and Implementing Early College High School? Retrieved April 28, 2006 from Early College High School Initiative Web site:



an alternate pattern book for gulf coast neighborhoods


and prototype for a sub-urban house/proposals for a continuous (dynamic) community

“Within 1-3 years...250,000 people will return to New Orleans to live...” - The Rand Corporation The recently issued documents “A Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods” by Urban Design Associates and “A Rebuilding Strategy New Orleans, LA” by the Urban Land Institute provided both a starting point and point of departure for the semester’s work. Questions that were omitted from the Pattern Book included the following: Preservation?, Investment in the city?, Fabrication?, New Industry? The studio addresses the possibility of systems, with the application of new technologies, being applied to both the design of the suburban house and housing? What are the potentials for new building materials, advanced manufacturing techniques and built-in smart technologies to transform the ubiquitous single-family unit? Can these technologies provide a means for re-conceptualizing the house in order to achieve higher degrees of performance and flexibility in the face of disaster? What are the tolerances? Given the above statistic from the Rand Corporation, where will 250,000 people live? The semester of studio work addresses the monumental question: “How should areas in New Orleans - be re-occupied and re-built?” Similarly: “What are the essential pieces needed to bring people back?” The student’s proposals focus on the individual house together with strategies for its sub-urban organization in New Orleans; and ask the following key questions: Should a house be flood proof? Should it be floodable? What is sustainable? What is a sustainable house? How specific should a building code be? How can we integrate issues of landscape, engineering and mitigation?

Floodable or Flood Proof?

In this context of re-building, can new methods of standardization, prefabrication and customization be utilized?

Laurie Hawkinson and Lee Ledbetter with Lindsay Smith

Proposal for re-zoning of New Orleans based on existing topography. Emily Bello and Jennifer Shoukimas.




Given the overwhelming task at hand, the six projects for rebuilding in New Orleans produced in this studio were framed around a series of conceptual and programmatic issues and criteria. Each project engaged, to varying degrees, the following concerns: 1. What is the relationship between the single housing unit and its neighbor as well as its environment? The current model of community planning as outlined in the Pattern Book follows a strict layout, i.e., master plan in which the buildings are treated as rigid, repetitive and introverted pieces along a street. As a counter-proposal the studio researched models in which the design of the single unit had a specific and generative impact on its adjacencies. Following the principle that 1+1=3, the single units’ sum [the community] was viewed as part of an integrative and dynamic process rather than an additive one.

Comparison of scale of Venice, Italy to New Orleans. Adam Hayes and Robert Mezquiti. Aerial view of Gentilly neighborhood. New Orleans green space diagram. Huey-Jye Kahn.

2. How do the units interface between street, neighbor and ‘back’yard? The design of the house/unit included considerations of street, median, sidewalk, front and backyards. These infrastructures can be understood as continuous, programmatic elements of the living unit and part of the design proposals, thus assuming that the interface between these parts is not separate but, rather, communicates and negotiates between them. Therefore, in lieu of ‘plugging’ buildings into the street or merely extending the back terrace into the garden/yard, students were encouraged to experiment with alternative strategies in which these parts are understood as different performative pieces of the same entity. 3. Can these local infrastructures inform and transform program? Can the formulaic, even stereotypical organization of a house be reconsidered? The house itself was conceptualized as an interface between programs and activities. Rather than confining program to rooms, for instance, models were investigated that orient activities along material, technology and space -- creating a more fluid and interactive field of programmatic definition and use. 4. What is the role of the site in both the design of the unit and the overall strategy for housing? Does the infinite surface of the now devastated ground seem to justify a tabula-rasa approach to town and community planning? Should all of the houses currently designated for demolition be demolished? Should anything be preserved? The ground here is not neutral; it is in constant flux and motion, transforming subtly but continuously in many ways. Patterns of growth and expansion are an opportunity for a new type of community planning. The intrinsic logic of the house could carry information forward to the scale of a community. 5. What is a new sustainability? What is a sustainable house in this geographic location today? “This overused catch-all term – ‘sustainability’ – can be viewed as more than just some additive function (like a porch) or the incorporation of passive energy (solar, wind). “Savings” could be the transmutation of material loads to information networks and vice versa, which would lighten the load, literally. Making material light is a really interesting problem – not just a modernist design issue, but



an issue extending into the nature of the materials, their literal ability to be lifted (sustained) away from their energy source, for instance.’”*How does the house respond to these extreme climatic conditions? What are the modern technologies and materials of “sustainability”? *Catherine Ingraham, “New Orleans / South Coast” studio format

The agenda of this studio was both to produce possible real proposals for the house and housing in specific sites within New Orleans and to propose a conceptual and methodological framework for working. The intention throughout the semester was to develop the projects to a level of detail that included material and fabrication processes as an integral part of the project’s strategy. This studio began by focusing on five sites: the Lower Ninth Ward, Lakeview, Gentilly, the Seventh Ward, and Holy Cross. An initial site visit to New Orleans in February of 2006 augmented mapping and planning research generated by the studio prior to the trip. A second trip to New Orleans was made to check assumptions regarding project site locations, leading to specific site-related adjustments.

Adam Hayes and Robert Mezquiti.

The overriding concern for all six projects is their relationship to sea level: they all take as a given a potentially high flood line and accommodate some degree of flooding. Each project is presumed to be part of a larger conceptual strategy that anticipates the rapid deployment of multiple units of single-family housing on highly compromised ground. All projects place significant emphasis on the attachment to the very soft ground of New Orleans. With the consulting assistance of Cliff McMillan, a structural engineer with Arup/New York, all projects concluded that either raft or pile foundations were the viable mode for this specific site and soil. Large-scale research included the following issues: encouraging the city of New Orleans to allow the water in and, by extension, to accept a variable topography; a comparative analysis of the existing morphology of the five research sites; broader analysis of the current state of the house and its development in the United States in economic, stylistic, and geographic terms; comparison with other flood prone cities like Venice; a detailed critique of the notion of the “planning map” as a strategy for rebuilding. Full- scale section detail drawings were developed to test the scale of the space and the construction detailing sequences, in addition to speculation regarding the material and fabrication processes.



FEMA trailers deployed in New Orleans.

Andrew Colopy



Could your house evolve from land to water?

The Amphibious House is a single housing typology that can adapt to be built at any elevation in New Orleans. Two bars of living space are joined on a circulation and infrastructure spine which provides natural ventilation and can be combined programmatically into any of the adjoining rooms. The bars sit on two foundation rafts Emily Bello that elevate the house above potential floodwaters. The space between the floor level and foundation is used for storage. Small adaptations make each house adaptable to the existing street conditions, lot size, relationship of the interior and exterior space, and the potential floodwater elevation.If the typical house section is turned upside down, infrastructure is raised as high as possible above potential floodwaters and the leftover space in the attic used for storage now occurs between the elevated house and the foundation. The height of the foundation could adjust according to the location of the house relative to sea level. high ground house

The two bars can be stacked to accommodate a narrow lot, making the house similar in proportion to a shotgun house. The foundation in the high ground allows the house to be raised above the ground for natural ventilation and to protect from potential floodwaters. Infrastructure can be run through the foundation and the space can be used for sub-floor storage. ridge house

One bar is raised to elevate the utilities as high as possible above potential floodwaters and to allow for a carport below. The foundation elevates the house above potential floodwaters, allows adjustment for differential soil settlement, and provides for storage and natural ventilation. wetland house

In the case of the wetland house, the space between the floor and foundation is large enough to be occupied and can be used for parking. aquatic house

In the aquatic house, the two bars compress to allow for a compact footprint, pushing the exterior spaces to the outside of the floating foundation. The foundation provides for floatation and storage and allows the infrastructure to be run though it.

high ground house


wetland house

aquatic house




$60 billion Levee system with level 4 hurricane protection

katrina storm surge

category 5 - 60 billion

Cost comparison: levee system with level 5 hurricane protection vs. letting the water in

aquatic wetland ridge

natural levee

category 3 - 6.5 billion

high ground

sea level - 100 years sea level


aquatic Proposal for re-zoning of New Orleans based on existing topography



urban green space

gentilly site plan

block section model

passive cooling diagram

Should we move to higher ground?

For most residents of New Orleans, there was no high ground to flee to during Hurricane Katrina. After an in depth study of the topographical differences of several New Orleans neighborhoods, the project focused on block development for the Gentilly neighborhood that provided a new elevated ground where people Huey-Jye Kahn and cars could take refuge from future flood waters while also serving as a shared community greenway in dry times. The typical backyard is relocated at the side of each house at street grade and a roof garden provides additional privatized outdoor space. The shared elevated greenway at the center of each block provides storage areas and cisterns for collecting grey water as well a location for municipal infrastructures which occupy the space below the new elevated ground resulting in a compact ecologically integrated section.

no. we can create it in our backyard! we can rebuild it in a simple way and just reform the landscape! we can stay where we are!


DOCK infrastructure foundation floatation

mounting mats modular dock infrastructure

structural framing interior volumes



JACKET ventilation weather protection sunshading privacy

panelized exterior

What if your house were safe from the storm?

In New Orleans, the water is rising and the land is sinking. What type of house can confront the unpredictability of these ecological certainties? Could one house remain safe in both wet and dry conditions? This proposal for a prototypical single-family house looks to the existing technology of floating dock systems and to the weather Jennifer Shoukimas protection of a rain jacket. Mooring masts are driven deep into the soft soil, allowing the floating foundation and flexible infrastructure to rise and fall with changing water levels. Anchored to the masts, the house remains stable under flood conditions. Inspired by a jacket, the perforated screen cage protects the house from storm driven projectiles, while creating private and shaded outdoor living spaces during the temperate months of the year. The screen’s pattern draws on the strength of bone as well as the overhead tree canopies shading New Orleans. Enclosed interior spaces remain small but comfortable. Maximum living space is achieved with a minimum amount of material.

longitudinal section



bulb and fixture

rigid insulation panel

light aperture electrical chase

fixed window

module webbing variable perforation (shown in truss frame configuration) (ply/thickness structurally dependent)

operable window (stock or custom)

module surface material (finishable material)

module exterior surface inset (3/4� ply adhered to rigid insulation)

baffle w/ variable perforation air register finish floor surfacing cross-module air vent pressurized plenum forced air system plumbing electrical chase (exterior use) structural steel column (beyond)

3 3

4 4


5 5 2 2

typical new orleans neighborhood center city example

environmental activism | close family structure

contemporary lifestyle | office proximity

time with friends and family

Could your values shape your home?

While industrial systemization once made it possible for millions to pursue the American Dream, these same processes now perpetuate the lowest common denominator in single-family housing. Today, the majority of houses in the U.S. are created through a process of speculation in which repetitive and ready-made forms that Andrew Colopy deny any ability to be specific to context, climate, community or client are duplicated at the lowest possible cost in order to maximize profit. The industry addresses this need for specificity through a superficial catalog of exchangeable parts and surfaces, but is incapable of meeting the needs of clients who value more about their home than its curb appeal and square footage. As New Orleans’ residents prepare to rebuild thousands of houses, change is crucial. This project proposes new ways in which architects can reorganize systems of production to make unique residences a real possibility.

machine beveled corners

laminated enclosure panel located through webbing geometry

webbing panels attached to enclosure insulation panel

enclosure and insulation panels 1/2” ply laminated to rigid foam

interior surface panels possible materials: plywood, cement board

webbing 3/4” and 1/2” ply (sizing structurally based)

interior finish and baffle panels cut in shop and assembled on site

exterior surface panels








Foundation Elevation with Existing Housing

Section with Proposed Second Level

Lower Ninth Ward Site Strategy

Can infrastructure grow a community?

In areas of New Orleans, such as the Lower Ninth Ward, that experienced almost total destruction, a reconsideration of the complete urban infrastructure is potentially required. This proposal re-grades the flat, below sea level, ground plane with a new subtle topography that focuses water to collection swales or wetlands not slated Adam Hayes and Robert Mezquiti for redevelopment. The swales or wetland are open public space for the entire community’s use. The new topography and newly plaited lots sustain the same number of residents in the Ninth Ward, Pre-Katrina. At the scale of the house, the definition of publicly provided infrastructure is reconsidered to include a foundation system which elevates each house to a safe height above sea level while providing and protecting essential utilities within the foundation structure. This new foundation – with its visibility from the street and new spaces for living within it at grade – presents a new focus on the design and fabrication of a house foundation.


Second Level Plan View

Single Unit Foundation Infrastructure Component


front elevation


side porch elevation

What if your house were as sophisticated as your car?

Think about the items you use to get through a typical day, and their size and distance relative to your body. The smallest and closest item is food. The next item up on both scales is clothing, followed by shoes, then transport, then shelter. Food has not advanced very much since the dawn of civilization; clothing has undergone minor improvements; shoes are little nuggets of advanced technology; and the types of motorized transport we use would have been unthinkable even one hundred years ago. Seems like our survival tools become Lee-Ping Kwan more futuristic the bigger and farther away from us they are, right? And yet, the shelter we use is probably less advanced than the average shoe. Take away the electricity, and you could be living in ancient Rome. This is where the Bungalette comes in. The Bungalette incorporates the very latest in cutting-edge technology to provide you with a spacious home that is storm-proof, flood-proof, and self-sufficient with its unique ability to take itself off the grid for months. It makes the average modern house look like a log cabin. What’s more, it is lovingly crafted with careful attention to detail, so that it is also a comfortable and livable house that is--dare we say it--remarkably attractive. Its futuristic good looks surprisingly blend well with all manner of historic and modern styles, while asserting a rugged and forward-looking individuality. You wouldn’t drive to work in a Model T. You wouldn’t use oiled animal hides to protect yourself from the rain. So why would you live in a primitive house? Try the Bungalette today. You’ll be glad you did. rain


hysolar cell

photovoltaic array

on-demand water heat




fuel cell

hydrogen tank

Bungalette self-sustaining systems diagram

hydrogen tank



bathroom sinks


kitchen sink dishwasher


hot water

hot water cistern

hydrogen tank

sand and carbon filter

solar water heat

fresh water tank

water cistern

fresh water tank

the grid

fresh water tank

empty tanks

septic tank

underground pumice bed

outdoor planters

Three courses combined forces to focus on issues of Mapping, Schools and Housing for Post-Katrina New Orleans. Scott Marble’s studio, Expandable Prototypes for Public Schools in Post Katrina New Orleans; Laura Kurgan’s seimanr, Environments of Design – New Orleans Now; and Laurie Hawkinson/Lee Ledbetter’s studio, Floodable or Flood Proof? An Alternate Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods and Prototype for a Suburban House / Proposals for a Continuous (dynamic) Community. All coordinated at various points throughout the semester for the site visit, discussions, info sessions, and reviews to share information and discuss the developing projects. research

Roundtable Discussion with Guests _ Klaus Jacob, Geophysicist, and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He teaches and does research on disaster risk management _ Lionel McIntyre, Director UTAP/GSAPP, New Orleans resident _ Jim Dart, Architect, Professor NJIT, New Orleans resident New Orleans Site Visit included lectures by or meetings with the following: _ Rich Campanella – Research Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University and Assistant Director of Center for Bio-environmental Research - on the history of NO floods and Miss River _ Doug Meffert - Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River & Coastal Studies Division of Earth and Ecological Sciences, Tulane University and Director of Center for Bio-environmental Research – on Sustainable Issues in Post-Katrina New Orleans _ Scott S. Cowen, President, Tulane University _ Reed Kroloff - Dean, Tulane University School of Architecture _ Lee Ledbetter - Architect - Introduction to New Orleans and its History _ Dan Etheridge - Guide for tour of Post-Katrina New Orleans

Published with generous support from the Office of the Provost, Alan Brinkley, and Teachers College, Columbia University, Darlyne Bailey, Dean, and Susan Fuhrman, President.. editors:

Laurie Hawkinson Laura Kurgan Scott Marble Kelvin Shawn Sealey, Ed.D. contributors:

Mark Wigley laura kurgan

SIDL (Spatial Information Design Lab), GSAPP Laura Kurgan David Reinfurt Sarah Williams Yates McKee, Avram Alpert, Joseph McGrath, Megan Kelly-Sweeney, Jiangqiao Tan, Leah Meisterlin, Clare Newman, Laura Shifley, Tse-Hui The, Leticia Crispin, Kay Cheng, Marshall Adams, Rachel Harris, Tatiana Pena Elizabeth Kays, Shelby Kohn, Stacy Radine, Lindsay Smith, Cate Corley, Candy Chang | kelvin sealey Eric Tinlup Ng, Associate in Architecture/GSAPP scott marble

Julia Molloy , Yooju No, Aiyla Balakumar, Tannar Whitney , Sean Erickson, Chris McAnneny, Lillian Wang, Alexandra Young, Anna Kenoff, Christopher Lewis Ben Freeman, Bill Bassett, Jennifer Kittner, Janice Murabayashi, Joe Cardenas, Marie Reed, Cara Furman, Deanna Belcher, Devon Ercolano Provan, Noah Bopp, Sarah Lohnes, Jeremy Robbins, Emily Morgan, Rebekka Schnell, Barbara Jenn laurie hawkinson

Lee Ledbetter, Architect, New Orleans Lindsay Smith, Associate in Architecture/GSAPP Emily Bello, Andrew Colopy, Adam Hayes, Robert Mezquiti, Huey-Jye Kahn, Lee-Ping Kwan, Jennifer Shoukimas, Klaus Jacob, Lionel McIntyre, Jim Dart, Rich Campanella, Doug Meffert, Scott S. Cowen, Reed Kroloff, Dan Etheridge design direction and production editors:

Jeannie Kim Chris Kroner ISBN 1-8835-8442-6 Copyright 2006 by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.

What other questions should we be asking?