||Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Maurice Cox, Justin Laskin, Pete O’Shea, ASLA, Leigh Wilkerson, Giovanna Galfione, Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA, Kathleen Mark
This project demonstrates how new residential development can be sensitively integrated into historic New Orleans
neighborhoods while providing public landscape amenities and incubating innovative employment opportunities. Fully
engaged in the neighborhood, LOCAL GREEN seeks independence in terms of its impact on the infrastructure of the city
and the resources of the region: self-sustaining, yet fundamentally connected to its place in the city.
The site is located at a strategic intersection between 3 diverse conditions:
• A nationally recognized historic neighborhood of low scale homes in a rural setting interspersed with larger scale structures like the Doullut Steamboat Houses and the Holy Cross School
• A levee park promenade that links the city to the Mississippi River
• An active shipping operation located at the Alabo Wharf area just downriver from the site
This proposal integrates and affirms the compatibility of these uses - by incorporating an extension of the park onto
the site and including a commercial farming component that promotes jobs and acknowledges the importance of maintaining
and expanding appropriate industrial uses in the city.
The pervasive vertical grass bank of the levee is remade into a park that is layered with terraces, trees and a promenade
that provides the basic shelter of shade to allow inhabitation. This sculpting of the protective landform is extended out
into the neighborhood as a ceremonial passage between the community and the river. The levee is redefined as a connector
instead of a boundary and the ground plane tells stories of the past as geology always does. The public is invited into
the site on a sloping earthwork, which begins at Douglass Street. This creates a gentle accessible ramp through the site
and up on to the river’s edge. The ramp connects to the existing levee path that will be further connected upriver to a
proposed bicycle crossing at the St. Claude Avenue Bridge. Additional earthwork connections are proposed at key intersections
in the neighborhood - particularly to new uses at historic sites such as the Holy Cross School. Live Oaks will be nurtured
to eventually reach their sculpted, moss draped presence. The earthwork establishes a new ground plane to which the Day
Center and the Community Room are linked by sloping roofs. The roof of the community room is a green plane, which acts
as an exterior gathering space for the community. Andry Street provides the primary pedestrian entry for both the Daycare
Center and Community Room, which relate to three outdoor rooms. The children’s areas of the daycare center are organized
around the first outdoor room, a central play court partially covered by a photovoltaic umbrella and visually connected
to the living machine and grey water cisterns. The second outdoor room, adjacent to the Community Room has large pivot
doors, which open onto the courtyard. This space can be used by the daycare center when appropriate. This large
courtyard gently slopes towards the river, creating a natural amphitheater.
Single and Multi-Family Residential
Low scale homes with narrow street frontage are typical to the historic Holy Cross neighborhood. This
pattern is continued in the siting of the 6 single-family detached homes along Douglass Street. The gaps between
these homes continue throughout the site, carving passages for light, air and side yard gardens through to the larger
scale apartment building that faces the river. This linear organization promotes visual connections between the single
family and multi-family uses. Though compact, each unit in the apartment building has 11’ ceilings with operable transoms
and clerestories. All units have screened porches and access to a shared rooftop. The two and three bedroom apartments
face the river, while the smaller apartments face the city. Both individual homes and apartments share a central parking
area, which is covered by a hydroponic garden. The spaces between houses are imbued with both function and tactility as
gardens and storm water courses inscribe the ground plane.
Urban Farming and Forestry
The fallow urban spaces in and around the site are reclaimed through agriculture and the management of a new urban forest
creating a hybrid of the rural conditions found along the river. Carbon is sequestered in the collective mass of the
forest, the air is filtered and the shady habitat below supports the gathering of the community. This area of the city
was historically the site of truck gardens that sold produce to the French Market and to restaurants in the French Quarter
We propose a hydroponics farm for this site in the area above the parking lot. These entrepreneurial uses could be extended
to other abandoned sites in the Holy Cross / Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. Slender greenhouses could occupy abandoned lots
while other areas could be forested with commercially viable trees to produce income and new jobs while the neighborhood
is in the process of reinvestment.
Katrina revealed the fragility of city services by leaving many residents without power and sewer services for months.
Residents understand that in future hurricanes this condition is likely to recur. Therefore energy independence and
infrastructure integrity become more than abstract goals.
Solar Energy is gathered in two ways. Photo-voltaic panels with battery backup and reverse metering are located above the
apartment building and the daycare center. The total for the arrays is 8000 sf. With tracking racks this should generate
6,000 Watts/household per day and 15,000 Watts for the Daycare Center and the Community Room. Solar Hot water panels are
provided for each residence. Insulated tanks are located on the roofs above the bathroom core. 20 - 30 sf array/residence.
Storm Water and Sewer
New Orleans receives an average of 57” of rain each year and relies on aging pumps to move this water outside the city.
Green Roofs and cisterns work to absorb and utilize this water rather than allowing it to flow into the city system.
New technologies allow human waste to be treated naturally on site. A ”Living Machine” is included to treat the waste
generated by the daycare center and the community room. Although the multi-family housing remains linked to the sewer,
this could change in the future.
Green Building Design
The buildings are designed to minimize energy use. Their linear form and 11’ ceilings are designed to maximize natural
ventilation. Operable transoms and clerestory windows allow mechanical venting of hot humid air. Roofs are either shaded
with solar collectors or planted to insulate against solar heat gain.
Design for De-Construction
The entire life cycle of a building should be considered in developing a construction strategy. This project proposes to
use the core principles of “design for de-construction” to extend the life span of the building and its material resources.
Timber and steel framing members would be assembled using mechanical fasteners minimizing the need for chemical sealants.
Components and sub-components would be selected to allow re-use, re-manufacture, recycling or bio-degrading. This
construction ethic would be reinforced by reusing salvaged wood and steel. Materials would be reconfigured and woven
into a new culturally rich ground. Recognizable elements of the city will be re-imagined and presented as part of a
new critical texture of place. Cypress and heart pine are particularly valuable materials that can last indefinitely if assemble properly.
LOCAL GREEN would secure funding from programs dedicated to the redevelopment of the Gulf Coast and from initiatives designed to
promote and model innovative green building strategies. Initial predevelopment loans and grants would be sought from several
nonprofit foundations and housing intermediaries, including the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the Low Income
Investment Fund (LIIF) and the Green Communities Initiative of the Enterprise Foundation. In addition, the project should
be able to secure support from the foundation and corporate divisions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which have
dedicated significant resources to the recovery of the Gulf Coast. Permanent funding might be secured from a combination
of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity and long term debt. While LIHTC awards are typically highly competitive,
Congress’s authorization of the Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) includes a substantial additional LIHTC allocation.
Because GO Zone LIHTC demand has not matched availability to date, the project seems assured of serious consideration
for an LIHTC award. In addition, the Enterprise Foundation’s Green Communities program and/or other local and regional
lenders should be able to extend all necessary long term debt at affordable rates and terms. The project’s community
space and day care are eligible capital costs under the LIHTC program, as are additional capital costs related to green
building design and specifications. The day care would also be eligible for funding under the US Community Development
Financial Institutions Fund’s New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program. The solar array could generate Renewable Energy
Credits that could be sold to local industries.