The Valen Alen Institute and New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) announced the three finalist teams from their joint competition, Future Ground, to develop projects to revitalize the population, market, and climate of New Orleans last week. These three teams have convened in New Orleans to tackle the challenge of developing long-term strategies for reuse of vacant land. As finalists of Future Ground, a competition funded by local stakeholders to alleviate the damage of Hurricane Katrina, these selected teams—comprised of members with backgrounds in design, policy and community development hailing from the United States and Canada—will receive $15,000 stipends to develop city planning initiatives. During the next six months, the finalists teams will investigate more than 2,000 vacant lots in the city, which NORA oversees.
Future Ground is the first of several competitions within Van Alen Institute’s “Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Design,” program, a multi-year initiative to establish public, open spaces for escaping built environments through competitions, research, and public programs. In an effort to remove blight and ensure long-term security for future damages, NORA worked with the Van Alen Institute to come up with guidelines for the teams to develop creative solutions. According to NORA, more than 180 individuals from 17 countries around the world responded to the design calls, which closed at the end of September. The chosen teams include architects, landscape architects, urban planners, engineers, lawyers, brownfield experts, and community development and finance specialists, all of whom have a high degree of familiarity with New Orleans.
The teams will have quarterly meetings, each serving specific purposes. The kickoff meeting, happening now, is for the team members to meet the Leadership Committee and stakeholders. The second and third meetings serve as interim presentations to update the finalist teams’ progress. Their final presentations will be in April 2015, and then turned over to NORA for immediate implementation. These projects will be discussed in a panel discussion and exhibition at the Tulane City Center in April, supported in part by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Neighborhoods’ “Go Green!” initiative, to explain how they will take form as policies.
These proposals are meant to develop small projects to New Orleans neighborhoods, but also develop models can also be replicated across the city as well as in other parts of the world. The teams are working with regional experts in design, policy, and community development to evaluate how New Orleans might change in 2015, 2025, and 2065, recognizing that designs and plans can take decades to be realized.
Below are the selected projects and teams working in Future Ground, provided by their press release:
Led by Kristi Cheramie, associate professor of landscape architecture at Ohio State University, with Jacob Boswell, Mattijs van Maasakkers and Jennie Miller, Team LEX proposed The New Orleans Land Exchange (NOLEX), a projective framework designed to move vacant parcels from tax delinquency to productive lands in order to protect public health and safety.
Team PAD is led by James Dart, AIA, principal of New York-based DARCH, with Deborah Gans, AIA, LoriAnn Girvan and Marc Norman, exploring “policy as a design tool.” With this process, they aim to revitalize the city’s current policies regarding alternative property, development, legal, and fiscal structures and to accommodate the post-Katrina New Orleans.
Team Stoss is led by Boston-based STOSS Landscape Urbanism designers Chris Reed, Scott Bishop, and Amy Whitesides, alongside Ann Yoachim, Byron Stigge, Jonathan Tate, Kate Kennen, Liz Ogbu, Jill Desimini, Teresa Lynch, and Michael Brady. Team Stoss will focus on developing strategies for New Orleans that build on local energies; that leverage the ecological, infrastructural, and civic values of landscape; and that catalyze new social, cultural, environmental, and economic dynamics throughout the city.