The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 can never be forgotten, but 10 years after the rebuilding of New Orleans started in 2006, a new architecture has emerged with cutting-edge designs being widely celebrated in the media. The Make It Right foundation (founded after the disaster to help with structural recovery) commissioned first-class architects such as Morphosis, Shigeru Ban, and David Adjaye to design safe and sustainable houses for New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. But Richard Campanella and Cassidy Rosen worry that this vision is detached from reality.
In their article for Places Journal, the two scholars report that contemporary and modernist houses only account for 5% of the post-Katrina cityscape. After studying a sample of 500 houses with both Google street view and study visits, they observed a revival of historical facades with a specific homage to the iconography of Old New Orleans. However interestingly, the use of historical architectural elements is limited to facades—all materials, technology, interiors, and infrastructure reflect 21st-century codes and domestic needs.
This interest for the architecture of the past is quite new, argue Campanella and Rosen. New Orleans citizens are known for their progressive thinking in architecture, especially during the post-war years, when Curtis and Davis Architects, Charles Colbert and Edward Durell Stone constructed locally. In Campanella and Rosen’s opinion, “the retro revival is mostly a response to the recent past—to difficult decades of contraction and decline,” that began prior to Katrina, but were intensified after the disaster.
Read the entire article, “14 to 1: Post-Katrina Architecture by the Numbers,” here.