New Orleans is a city unlike any other. Defined by a rich cultural history, the Big Easy has been shaped by it's geography along the Mississippi Delta and the local climate. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, designers and architects looked to the city with a renewed focus to build a better future. From the Lower 9th Ward to the French Quarter and beyond, modern designs were created within a diverse urban fabric.
Louisiana: The Latest Architecture and News
We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.
Meet 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl who, for more than fifty years, has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people to “re-conquer the city.” Gehl has studied the relationship between life and form since the mid-1960s, when he started questioning the modernist approach of looking at the architectural model from above instead of from the inside. The architecture of that time was very often "an obsession with architecture for architecture’s sake," and took very little interest in the inhabitants.
[Architecture can] change the life of people and give them a new one right away. This is not a job for normal people to do. This should be the work of God.
The Department of Human Settlements at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts' School of Architecture, Design, and Conservation has developed a new low-income housing prototype for Maputo, Mozambique in southeast Africa as part of the Casas Melhoradas research project. The prototype reinterprets the area’s traditional “Casa de Madeira e Zinco,” which is made of wood and corrugated iron sheets, and the "Casa de Blocos," which is composed of concrete blocks.
Ten years ago this month, Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf coast of the US, hitting New Orleans the hardest. Two years after the wake of this destruction, after seeing the city's lack of rebuilding progress firsthand, Hollywood star and architecture enthusiast Brad Pitt launched Make It Right, a project set to build 150 houses designed by 20 internationally renowned architects.
Over the past eight years, Make It Right has not only helped to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans—the area struck the hardest by the disaster—but has also began to spread its work to Missouri, Montana, and New Jersey, with more projects coming soon. While the non-profit organization has had success in its endeavors, it has simultaneously faced a great deal of criticism.
In a recent interview with NOLA, Pitt discusses some of these criticisms, reflecting on the growth of the organization, and the changes it has made. Find out about Pitt’s evolving perspective, after the break.
A contemporary museum set within the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, Trahan Architects’ Louisiana State Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum is distinguished for its sculpted interior and contrasting copper facade. Watch the short film above as Spirit of Space tours through the building, capturing the museum’s historic context and central pathway.
February 17 is Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” traditionally a Catholic holiday that celebrates the last night of indulging in guilty pleasures before participating in the penitential season of Lent. Celebrated around the world with elaborate parties, parades, dancing, and other frivolities, its festivities are most famously celebrated within the United States today in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, the site of the first American Mardi Gras.
Three finalists have been selected to move forward in the Van Alen Institute (VAI) and New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s (NORA) “Future Ground” open ideas competition. Each will be provided with a $15,000 stipend to investigate and develop long-term design and policy strategies for vacant land reuse in New Orleans.
“Too often, vacant land has been seen only as a remnant of or absence within the 20th century city,” described the VAI. “Today, with a critical mass of designers, policymakers, scholars, artists, activists, and residents creating pilot projects, thoughtful studies, and new kinds of urbanism on abandoned properties, it is possible to imagine this land as an integral part of the future city.”
Ever since the New Republic published Lydia DePillis's piece entitled "If you Rebuild it, They Might Not Come" - a criticism of the progress of Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation - numerous blogs and journals have been in a uproar, defending Make It Right's efforts at rebuilding the vastly devastated Lower Ninth Ward and presenting a much more forgiving perspective on the progress of the neighborhood since the engineering disaster that exacerbated the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To date, 86 LEED Platinum homes have been designed and constructed by world-renowned architects including Frank Gehry and Morphosis, at a cost of approximately $24 million. Make It Right has promised to build up to 150 such homes, but DePillis's article points out how amenities in the neighborhood are low and how the number of residents returning to the neighborhood is dwindling. Make It Right has made a commitment and the debate that ensues questions whether it is going far enough in delivering its promise to rebuilding community.
Find out more after the break.
Make It Right is proud to announce the completion of the Frank Gehry-designed, New Orleans’ duplex in the Lower 9th Ward. The colorful, LEED Platinum home is part of an affordable and sustainable community that is currently being developed by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation within the NOLA neighborhood most devastated from Hurricane Katrina.
“I really believe in what Brad is doing for the community and was honored to be included,” said Frank Gehry. “I wanted to make a house that I would like to live in and one that responded to the history, vernacular and climate of New Orleans. I love the colors that the homeowner chose. I could not have done it better.”
Continue after the break for more.
Located to the north-east of Crowley, a small town in Louisiana known to be the “Rice Capital of America”, the Acadia Parish Conference Center by Trahan Architects will mediate the threshold between the urban development to the west and the agricultural fields to the east. Envisioned as an extension of the landscape, the center creates a harmonic balance between the two environments, expressing the importance of local agricultural.
Continue after the break for more on the Acadia Parish Conference Center.
Bayou-luminescence, one of ten site-specific installations commissioned by the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects, was a collaboration between Igor Siddiqui, the principal of the Austin-based design practice ISSSStudio and Matt Hutchinson, the principal of San-Francisco-based firm PATH. The project was included as a part of DesCours, the annual architecture and art event on view at various locations in city from December 2 through 11, 2011. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame (LSMSHOF) celebrates two seemly disconnected subjects within one contemporary venue, combining North Louisiana’s profound history with its influential world of sports. Designed by Trahan Architects, in coordination with Method Design and CASE, the new $12.6 million venue will house donated memorabilia that embodies “the contributions of the diverse cultures that have shaped the state and are crucial to understanding the unique traditions and legacy of Louisiana and the Gulf South.” A complex design, generated with the help of BIM technology, reflects the disparate subjects in one fluid structure encased within a locally inspired facade.
Continue reading for more information and images.
DesCours is a free, public, ten-night architecture and art event now in its fifth year, held December 2-December 11 in New Orleans.
This event invites internationally renowned architects and artists to create architecture installations within ‘hidden’ locations in the heart of New Orleans, including private courtyards, rooftops, abandoned buildings and walkways, all locations normally unseen, inaccessible or unused by the public.
More information on the event after the break.
Check out a preview we spotted on PublicInterestDesign of Tulane University’s School of Architecture URBANbuild program, a total collaborative effort of “individuals, organizations, and businesses committed to revitalizing New Orleans’ rich cultural and architectural heritage.” Working with Professor Byron Mouton, Make It Right and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, students have designed and built several LEED-certified homes such as URBANbuild 04 featured in the clip. This particular residence is situated in Central City of New Orleans and completely breaks with the traditional “shotgun homes” that line the streets. The young homeowner, Tami, appreciates the students’ talents and abilities to go beyond what the neighborhood, and even the city, is comfortable with to create a new urban identity. Challenged by Mouton to introduce new ideas, the students have created a beautiful residence that they can certainly be proud of and one that Tami loves View her story and a bit of the project’s journey in the video.
Tulane School of Architecture has announced their 2011-2012 school year lecture series featuring Rafael Moneo, Billie Tsien, Adam Yarinsky and others, including a string of lectures on Urban Innovations co-sponsored by The Murphy Institute. More information on the lectures after the break.