Tuesday was a travel day for me heading back from four days in New Orleans. I got home at 2 AM and have not had adequate time to write (although lots of time to think). In lieu of a more substantive post, I'm going to try and induce some discussion here that parallels a discussion amongst my Facebook friends.
I was in NOLA with my wife, who was attending the Society of Professional Journalists annual conference. Monday afternoon she was able to sign me up for a tour of the levees which, as a civil engineer, I was really fascinated with. So here I am traveling around with a bunch of journalists and, after visiting two levee construction sites, we pull into the Make It Right (Brad Pitt) portion of the lower 9th ward.
Not to stereotype my touring companions, but this was something they could understand.
I was really amazed by how they uniformly seemed to think the neighborhood was great, that somehow these were not just "beautiful" homes but that it was perfectly normal (and not some type of freaky circus) for good, decent people to have a bus full of journalists pull up to their front yard and start taking pictures of their homes.
So here's where you come in. Today's discussion is about the Make it Right neighborhood. Is it:
a) A great project, well executed.
b) A vain experiment on the poor and vulnerable.
c) Some good intentions with poor execution.
Some photos for those of you unfamiliar with the project.
I'm going to be at the Minnesota APA conference tomorrow but will try and weigh in with my own thoughts sometime in the afternoon.
Afterthought: Sorry for not providing more context. As soon as I posted the photos on Facebook, I was inundated with thoughts and comments. Should not assume all our readers would automatically know this project. For those of you not familiar with the Make it Right neighborhood or any of the controversy, here are some good resources:
- Kaid Benfield on Rebuilding the Ninth Ward: does architecture matter?
- A pure architectural critique from Rebecca Firestone
- An alternative approach done by Andres Duany of DPZ and Steve Mouzon of the New Urban Guild