Architects: the Common Thread in Re-building following Hurricane Katrina

AIA New Orleans 10 Years 10 Stories



An exhibit developed by AIA New Orleans, titled “10 Years / 10 Stories”, highlights the critical roles that architects have played in the recovery and renaissance of the city over the last decade.  The exhibit kicks off with an opening reception, coinciding with White Linen Night, on August 1 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the AIA New Orleans Center for Design at 1000 St. Charles Ave.  The public is invited to this free event.

The 10 stories of growth, community engagement, environment, policy, resiliency, finance, equality, design awareness, and culture speak to the work that has been undertaken over the last ten years in New Orleans.  The 10th story asks “What’s Next?” for New Orleans and what role architects will play in the next 10 years.

The planning for the exhibit has been coordinated by a team of young architects representing a diverse range of firms throughout the city, and chaired by Mary Gilmore, AIA.  “Many of the young architects working in the city today were not here 10 years ago,” said Gilmore.  “Some braved the storm, some came to help with the recovery, and others came as a result of the opportunities created from it.  Our team has been working for months to gather stories, research projects, and interview architects about their contributions.  The result is a collective memory showcasing the power of architecture to effect change.  It serves as an inspiration and calling to the next generation of leaders shaping the built environment.”

These stories and many more are told in the 10 Year / 10 Stories exhibit which runs through September 26 and is open on Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the AIA Center for Design.  The exhibit is free and open to the public.

In conjunction with the exhibit, AIA New Orleans is also hosting a panel discussion entitled “The Next 10 Years,” which will feature forecasts from local experts on the challenges and opportunities facing the built environment over the next decade.  The panel discussion will take place on Thursday, August 27, from 6 to 8 pm at the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center Freeport-McMoRan Theater. The panel discussion event is free and open to the public.



Additional details about the exhibit:

The exhibit showcases many untold stories, such as how a decade of planning, led by local architects, recently culminated in the adoption of a new comprehensive zoning ordinance, and that the ordinance was heavily influenced by the local architectural design community. It tells the story of citizen architects, like Ray Manning, FAIA, who used their talents, training, and expertise to contribute to civic activism.  As President Pro-Tem of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, Manning advocated for and ushered in innovative practices in water management and environmental infrastructure.

Architects were instrumental in environmental advancements also, designing new buildings with energy efficient, sustainable features. The result helped move Louisiana from having only one LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified building before Katrina to nearly 1,000 today.

Many architects contributed pro-bono services to a variety of projects. One example is Michael Bell, FAIA, who developed 15 new plans, 4 new facades, and 4 new roof assembly combinations for the Musician’s Village, an ambitious collaboration aimed to help musicians of New Orleans return home, through the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

Another was Kurt Hagstette, who served as volunteer chair of a committee to re-establish a library in his Broadmoor community. His committee secured a $2 million Carnegie Foundation grant. It also convinced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through persistent assessments, to provide $4 million for restoration and expansion of the facility, and raised another $300,000.  The 6,300 square foot library now serves as the heart of the community.