Rebuilding New Orleans: The Role of Urban Planning and Design

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the City of New Orleans, breaching several levees and flooding 80 percent of the city. In the process, the majority of the buildings in the city were either destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. In the wake of this disaster, the President of the United States declared that the task to reconstruct the city would be the \”largest rebuilding effort in the history of the United States.\” This rebuilding effort presents opportunities to improve the built environment in a city with many blighted properties and a history of concentrated poverty. However, this effort also presents challenges because the vision for the future of New Orleans is a contested one. This course is designed to explore the redevelopment options available to the City of New Orleans in the wake of the hurricane. In the process of exploring these options, this course will also examine how the city is divided into groups along the lines of race, income, neighborhood interests, and business interests. These groups each have a different vision of what is best for the city. This course will explore the task of rebuilding the city using principles of effective urban planning, while at the same time mediating competing interests in order to form the consensus necessary to secure public support for a rational planning process.