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New Orleans Under Reconstruction: The Crisis of Planning
A national conference held at Tulane University, October 23 -24, 2009

The destruction of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levees was an experience of horror and revelation. Katrina’s differential effects and the hugely disproportionate responses by and for different communities laid bare not simply a peculiar U. S. urban anatomy; they exposed a simmering crisis in the nature of planning itself. New Orleans Under Reconstruction, a conference organized by Carol McMichael Reese, Michael Sorkin, and Anthony Fontenot, took place on October 23 and 24, 2009, at Tulane University.

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The conference examined the aftermath of Katrina and New Orleans’ struggles with rebuilding as deeply symptomatic of larger issues of contemporary planning and urbanism. The organizers gathered an impressive and diverse group of local and national planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, activists, and academics not only to present current work in New Orleans, but also to advance debate about and action toward the resurgence of the city. The timing of these debates was all the more crucial as the city moved rapidly toward the mayoral race that marked the end of Ray Nagin's administration and the beginning of Mitch Landrieu's.

The focus of this event was on highlighting the progress that has been made, overcoming the obstacles that have slowed rebuilding, and advancing future visions for the city, as well as on interrogating the general role of planning today and exploring the possibility of the emergence of a reconstructed New Orleans as an exemplar. Issues concerning environmental ethics and sustainability, master planning, water management, housing equity, contemporary design and green building, cultural landscapes, citizen activism, and the right to the city were all prominently addressed.

New Orleans Under Reconstruction
was organized by Carol McMichael Reese, Mary Louise Mossy Christovich Associate Professor of Architecture at Tulane University School of Architecture; Michael Sorkin, Distinguished Professor of Architecture and the Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at the City College of New York; and Anthony Fontenot, Fellow of the Society of Woodrow Wilson Scholars andPh.D. Candidate at Princeton University School of Architecture.  Since Katrina, Reese, Sorkin, and Fontenot have conducted “Project New Orleans,” which has compiled an archive of proposals for the reconstruction of the city. Many of these were exhibited in 2006 at the New Orleans African American Museum at an exhibition organized by Project New Orleans. The results of the conference and an extensive selection from this archive will be published in a book by Verso, scheduled to appear in late 2010.