Cities in Crisis: Memory and Community in Architecture and Planning

There will be massive needs for restoration, redesign, and community planning. This will impact everything from affordable housing to reestablishment of basic infrastructure and transportation; from rebuilding essential public facilities to commercial building and housing repair and replacement. It will also include historic preservation and serious environmental assessments. How our nation responds to this massive crisis will, in many ways, provide a measure of our nation\'s values both in human terms as well as how we handle our natural and built environments. American Institute of ArchitectsCities in Crisis: Memory and Community in Architecture and PlanningThe studio confronts the harsh reality of a city in crisis, imagining ways of rebuilding through memory and community. As we face the many challenges of relief, recovery and remembering the victims of Hurricane Katrina, we also reflect on September 11th 2001, when 2,749 people were violently murdered in a planned catastrophic act of terrorism. Post-9/11, we understand the power and potential of architecture in the rebuilding and healing process. With our minds, hands and hearts we can make a difference. This is a real-time studio with real projects and programs. The site is New Orleans. The studio consists of three assignments: Reconnaissance: The City of New Orleans, 2 weeks Remember: A Memorial to the People of New Orleans, 3 weeks Rebuild: Shelter from the Storm: The Parish Recovery Center, 10 weeks I originally planned to teach a studio that would re-examine Ground Zero and re-THINK specific problems of the design and planning effort that have frustrated both the families and city and delayed the re-building and memorial process. However, Hurricane Katrina is a national problem of staggering human loss – not only for the families of those that died but to those that live on and are homeless – that must be dealt with by the architecture, engineering and planning community immediately.We will look briefly at Ground Zero to learn from our experience and apply its lessons to New Orleans. Early in the semester there will be a trip to New York with a site visit to Ground Zero, a presentation of the World Trade Center Master Plan and new projects at the LMDC offices by various architects and a presentation of the September 11th Memorial by architect Micheal Arad. Students may also research the 2004 tsunami-ravaged coastlines of the Indian Ocean and cities that have known the humiliation of devastation such as Kobe, Sarajevo, Beirut, Berlin, and Dresden. The reconstruction efforts at work in these disparate places, as well as ways that memorials have been variously interpreted around the world will be considered. There are rich design opportunities to be found at the juncture of crisis and the future. Reconstruction, carefully considered with the local culture in mind, can return a better city to the people without the pretension of a utopian vision. An ill-considered reconstruction, which clears entire districts and bulldozes the urban fabric, as in the case of Kobe, Japan, following its 1995 earthquake, can impose psychological trauma and devastate collective memory. Design problems will focus on the vast implications of disaster in the metropolis, and the role of memory in the reconstruction effort.Students will be expected to fully contribute in studio discussions and in their interpretations of their research effort. In the first two weeks, students will gather information about New Orleans to understand the implications of the site and its culture. A weekend field trip to Ground Zero is planned to look at another site in crisis. Students will be evaluated on their ability to express their ideas primarily by visual presentations (physical models and computer modeling are encouraged). #1 RECONNAISSANCE: City of New OrleansThe firs