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"New Orleans Under Reconstruction"

October 21, 2009 2:30 AM
Carol J. Schlueter cjs@tulane.edu

How should New Orleans rebuild itself, now and into the future? Tulane architecture faculty member Carol Reese and two colleagues are bringing 36 experts from across the nation to Tulane to talk about the big picture issues.

With a mayoral election looming and the city's proposed master plan under the microscope, the timing is perfect for the two-day national conference, "New Orleans Under Reconstruction: The Crisis of Planning," opening on Friday (Oct. 23). The sessions in the Lavin-Bernick Center are free of charge and open to the public.

"We all aspire for New Orleans to become the new city to follow," says Reese. "The more we reach outside the city and look for advice and ideas, that cross-fertilization will only make what's happening here stronger and more sustainable."

Architect Wm. Raymond Manning will be one of the speakers at the national conference, "New Orleans Under Reconstruction: The Crisis of Planning." Hear him talk about the future of New Orleans in this video produced by Alicia Duplessis Jasmin, with photos by Paula Burch-Celentano.

During the "Katrina semester" in fall 2005, Reese, Michael Sorkin and Anthony Fontenot created Project New Orleans. They developed a website to store plans for the city's rebuilding that had been proposed by architects, students and urban planners around the nation.

Now their work is coming into focus for this week's conference, organized by Reese, Sorkin (distinguished professor of architecture at City College of New York) and Fontenot (a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University who formerly taught at Tulane). It is underwritten by the Tulane Research Enhancement Fund and the Zemurray Foundation.

Guest speakers for the conference include architects, planners, sociologists, ethicists, landscape architects, theologians, geologists and citizen activists. Their topics include planning after global disasters, building better neighborhoods, searching for higher ground, endangered geographies, wetland connections, environmental ethics and many others. A book will result from the conference.

"We're really thankful that we organized the conference for this particular time," says Reese, who is the Christovich Associate Professor of Architecture.

Meanwhile, public hearings are being held this month on the citywide master plan that will guide the long-term physical development of the Crescent City.