The Brewery Pod
Dryades/Oretha Haley Castle Corridor Study: Central City New Orleans
Higher Ground: Rebuilding the Lower 9th
Hybridization: Programmatic Reorganization
Inter-Living System
Liquid Urbanism: The New New Orleans
Mega Medical City: MCLNO
The Metropolis as the Machine in the Garden
Museum of Food and Drink (MoFaD)
A Neighborhood Square for Gentilly
New Canals Needed
New Orleans Neighborhoods Rebuilding Plan
New Orleans: The Next Tax-Free Haven?
Rebuilding the Houma Nation
Recovery Planning Methodology
Sea Level: Balancing New Orleans
Singing a New Tune
Tulane/Gravier Master Plan
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title   Sea Level: Balancing New Orleans
student   Christina Hoxie
instructor   Paola Sanguinetti
date   Spring 2006
school   University of Kansas
subject   urban design
site   New Orleans
New Orleans inhabitants have dealt with their watery surrounds since the founding of the city in 1718. The majority of the land between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain is below sea level. Years of silt deposits built up the land at the river bends to make the high ground that escapes flooding. In 1723 levees were reinforced and expanded to control the flow. The New Basin canal project was carried out from 1820-1860 to connect trade routes and address major drainage and sewage problems plaguing the growing city. In 1897 another even larger engineering project was undertaken to dig more canals, and install pumping stations and power plants. By 1903, generally the plan was in place for the drainage system that the city was still using in 2000. In 1903, development maintained footing on the high ground. By 1950 development had moved into the areas of the city that were below sea level and filled in the entire area between the bodies of water. This land was overtaxed and systems failed under the pressures of large storms in 2005. This is the latest in a history of major floods this city has seen. Prior to Katrina, the central city had a population of 484,000. This population now residing in the city is roughly 200,000, which corresponds to population of the city in 1900. The misery of this catastrophic event has displaced over half of this city's residents. The physical and social fabric of this city of native New Orleans citizens is torn to shreds. A different way of living in this dynamic environment needs to be explored. Water is the force of this planning pattern and its flow is the logic through which to find solutions to this constantly inundated city.

"Algorithms … break down the elusive…phenomenon of shape. Shapes are never unwilled figures. Deep within them is a struggle between the predilections of the architect and the inherent properties of the geometries encountered. The algorithm mediates these two, acting as a kind of solvent to liquefy them and create the potential for crystallization."
     -Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch, Tooling

Complexity of urban interaction may be described through a means of coordinating patterns of flows for both water and people. Disintegration of land to water allows New Orleans to become perforated to the flow of water. The resulting patterns arise from the order of obstructions: paths, streets and multi-use structures. This idea builds upon New Orleans' history of complex order through simple formal types.
This proposal places an urban growth boundary on New Orleans. The boundary corresponds with the areas of New Orleans developed on the higher ground, primarily developed prior to 1900. This proposal implies development plans for a city with capability for a much higher density, so that the pre-Katrina population and commerce may return to New Orleans. The historic neighborhoods and business districts along the Mississippi would remain and the axes and patterns of development that begin from the historic districts would build the city into hierarchies of waterways and responsive multilevel slices of city. The "hydraulic city" may now fluidly respond to its larger environment. The areas of the city below sea level would be maintained as parks, areas of water recreation and possible agricultural development through expansion of the hierarchy of waterways between river and lake with dams and terraced land.

"Axes reach across space to draw together the important points in a place. They are the mental constructs that help us to position ourselves and make alliances with things, buildings, or spaces. Paths are where your feet actually trod, so that what happens along the way becomes the important thing. In some of the most interesting places, axes and paths interweave, with the axis allowing the mind to do the connecting, and the path allowing the feet to wander, explore, make choices, and put things in sequence."
     -Charles Moore, Chambers for a Memory Palace
link   school site

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