Sunday, March 12, 2006

If You Want Something Done Right...

Reed Kroloff's new New Orleans

Neighborhood organizations in New Orleans, frustrated by the slow - or no - progress from the government, are organizing their recovery on their own. According to the Times Picayune;
...Broadmoor residents, like grass-roots community groups all across the city, are moving ahead on their own without waiting for the expert-laced planning exercise promised by Nagin's commission. They are polling residents, creating planning committees and enlisting the help of an unnamed Ivy League university in writing a redevelopment plan.

Fearing they may lose control of what happens to their communities - especially with some areas at risk of being declared no longer viable, and subject to clearing - activists in Lakeview, Gentilly and eastern New Orleans are calling meetings, mulling issues, debating what kinds of changes they will favor or oppose.

Much of the work is brainstorming and data-gathering. In some cases it has taken a sophisticated turn, involving architects or planners who donate their time.

"There has been no direction given (from City Hall), so neighborhoods have to fend for themselves," said Latoya Cantrell, president of the Broadmoor group. "We're on our own."
Although it may slow down the recovery effort a bit, the fact that local residents are planning their own recovery makes it more likely that the revitalized neighborhood will be more to their liking.

But it seems that one of the major impediments may be a fellow architect. Reed Kroloff, dean of Tulane's School of Architecture, has a big-time burr up his ass when it comes to New Urbanism.
Kroloff, an enthusiast of modernist architecture, abhors the "new urbanism" embraced by Duany's team, an architectural style that embraces small-town touches evocative of an earlier era when cars were fewer and urban living less anonymous. Kroloff has made clear that he doesn't want the state consultants to gain a New Orleans beachhead.
Kroloff is well know in architecture circles in New Orleans as one of Modernisms heaviest "Kool-Aide" drinkers. It must drive him to batty when he hears that Andreas Duany recieves standing ovations from small town residents like Erath when he uveils his plan for the rebuilding of their new towns while Reed sits in his Ivory Tower plotting Modernisms next great coup.


Mark said...

My, but things have changed since the days when the Tulane SoA helped lead the fight against the riverfront expressway. I think most people in the neighborhoods most at risk, both from flooding and the process, are stretched too thin to grok just what this battle could mean to the character of their neighborhoods. Average folks like myself will look to people like yourself and Veritas and Venustas for some guidance, either in writing out own posts, or shouting out anything y'all do on the subject. My own take (based on my limited research on the subject in the fall) is that someone like Kroloff would repeat the mistakes of post-war Europe: save the handful of momuments,and build out-of-character future blight elsewhere.

nojack03 said...

Don't get too down on Reed until youlook at what he and the others in the planning group are talking about. His position on the committee, appointed by Canizaro, is to plan redevelopment, not tell people what type of house to build. The problem they want to keep from happenning is the CNU's standard practice of selling people on the idea of "historic" looking buildings that turn out to be made of vinyl and plastic and look like fake disney buildings. Reed may like modernism, but it is diversoty and true new orleans character that he is pushing as opposed to fake cosmetic ideas of fitting in the the cityscape.

Kinch said...

Tulane is no longer a "New Orleans" university. It gave up that title when the administration long ago decided that being a local university was not good enough to impress the elites at Northeast dinner parties and Reed Kroloff is the personification of that attitude.

My fifth-year professor at LSU once taught at TU. As he explained it, Tulane is where students who aren't good enough to get into the NE schools go.

corbusier said...

I remember Tulane calling itself the "Harvard of the South".

By the way, Kroloff was a U Texas grad like me, and that program isn't known to have that much of a modernist reputation. It was actually steep in postmodernism for the longest time (Charles Moore was part of the faculty) and it churns out a good number of preservationists. I remember UT as actually a pretty diverse place in which all approaches were evaluated with respect.

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