DENISE HOFFMAN BRANDT
Last week we featured geographer Richard Campanella's wide-ranging look at the environmental and social ecologies of New Orleans, before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Here landscape architect Denise Hoffman Brandt zeroes in on one neighborhood — and one household — to reveal the ongoing and ultimately personal struggles to reclaim the damaged city. Residents are rebuilding their houses, but as Brandt shows, the city is not rebuilding their neighborhoods.
After Hurricane Katrina, the citizens of New Orleans engaged in passionate debate about how to rebuild the city — and more, about how to rebuild to prevent future catastrophe. As Richard Campanella writes, in the second of a two-part installment from his new book, "Everyone seemed to become a policy wonk, a disaster expert, an engineer, a geographer, and above all, an urban planner." At the heart of the debate was a hard question: Should the city rebuild as before, even in low-lying, flood-prone areas? World attention may have refocused on other disasters, yet a great American city remains vulnerable to calamity.
Almost five years have passed since Hurricane Katrina and the floods that followed devastated New Orleans. But as geographer Richard Campanella makes plain in his new book, Delta Urbanism: New Orleans
, the immediate catastrophe — the one that could not be ignored, that attracted international attention and inspired relief efforts and planning proposals and federal promises — has given way to the slow-building potential for future catastrophe — one that seems all too easy to ignore. For the underlying conditions that caused the devastation remain much the same. Not only are the flood-protection systems that have been constructed to protect the low-lying city pathetically inadequate — "under-engineered, cavalierly inspected and poorly maintained," in Campanella's words; still more, a century of intensive environmental manipulation has neutralized or destroyed the natural systems — the coastal wetlands, barrier islands, etc. — that would buffer the effects of seasonal storms and cyclical flooding. Here we present the first of a two-part excerpt from Delta Urbanism: New Orleans
. This first part comprises Campanella's precise and painful narrative of the storm itself, from its ominous approach to horrifying aftermath, and also his account — a kind of retrospective forensics — of the environmental engineering that made it inevitable that a "sufficiently strong tropical storm" would cause a catastrophe. We will feature the second installment, about the post-disaster planning efforts — what some locals have called "plandemonium" — later this week.
GAVIN BROWNING, GRETA HANSEN, CHERYL WING-ZI WONG
In late January we featured "ink," a gallery drawn from an exhibition at Studio-X New York, a downtown extension of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia. Here we present a gallery based on the latest exhibition at Studio-X. Trans Siberia
is a record of the 5,000-mile journey from Moscow to Beijing, undertaken by the artist-architect duo Warm Engine, on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Warm Engine paid particular attention to the administrative buildings of the Communist party in the former Soviet Union and People's Republic of China, a selection of which are shown here, photographed in the deep cold of a high-latitude winter.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2009
Learning from New Orleans, or why we really need a new New Deal.
Pratt Institute, School of Architecture
The work of the students here at Pratt shows a clear appreciation and understanding of the possibilities of architecture today, as the mission of the school is dedicated to design and a complete understanding of the making of cities and buildings. The spirit of advancing architectural ideas in terms of both form and technique is at the essence of the transformation of contemporary design.