Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Follow Me, You Go First

The Wal Street Journal online has an article about Andres Duany and DPZ's Gentilly charette. The writer mostly covers matters already hashed out in the media about the role of New Urbanism but later there is a paragraph concerning the rift between the New Urbanists and Modernists.

"Architecture in which the answers to the future only live in the past represents a limited world view," says Reed Kroloff, dean of the school of architecture at Tulane University. As part of Mayor Ray Nagin's Bring New Orleans Back Commission, Mr. Kroloff objected to Mr. Duany's participation in New Orleans. "We've got great planners here," says Mr. Kroloff, who is no longer associated with the city's rebuilding efforts. "We don't need an out-of-town firm."

While agreeing with the New Urbanists on several planning concepts -- mixed-use development, higher density and walkability among them -- Mr. Kroloff argues that the redevelopment of New Orleans must be guided by more contemporary planning. For instance, he objects to the New Urbanists' fondness for town squares, arguing that public green space should follow the natural pattern of the landscape.

Mr. Kroloff is doing here what he as always been doing, critisizing the work of other architects and planners while actually doing little or no work himself. Notice how Mr. Kroloff says in broad terms what needs to be done but offers no specifics. At least Mr. Duany is showing residents what the possibilities are for their rebuilt neighborhoods.

This response from one resident sums it up nicely.

"I don't give a flip what you call it," says Nikki Najiola, a member of the civic-improvement group who applauded Mr. Duany's concepts for Gentilly. "Just get me back into my house."

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