Originally Posted by Uptowngirl
I think if most architects I know had their way here in New Orleans every new building would generally, be modernist structures. Of course I live in a town characterized by the push of the spirit of avant guarde artists and architects, and the pull of historist and traditionalist architects, arts and preservationists.
i was hesitant to add further posts to this thread. it's going off-topic from a more straightforward discussion of architectural theory and segueing into urban renewal, and developer power vs. the rights of the existing inhabitants.
you think avant garde artists and architects will build their wacky structures in new orleans? that's just not the way things work. architects may WANT to build a certain way, but architects don't wield much of a say. you don't like the stylistic preferences of architects? you're in luck. 99% of what's built in north america conforms to the prevailing styles. in this era, it's all about neo-historicist styles. there's no real debate about architectural style
. thus you may wonder why there's been so much noise? why have stories about wacky avant garde architects dressed in all-black with their intellectual snobbery and aesthetically questionable designs gotten people lathered up in a fury?
the debate about architectural style is a diversion. post-katrina new orleans is more about a power grab between the developer community and new orleans' formerly displaced residents
. the development community wants many of the flood damaged areas to be razed and developed into a gentrified area, whereas the original residents of these areas want to restore and continue to live in their neighborhoods.
the big money in the real estate industry comes from increases in the price of land. in the 50s and 60s, developers reaped big profits from the suburbanization movement. previously dirt cheap greenfield land was transformed into middle class tract housing. in the new millennium, downtown is now seen as having profit potential. after katrina, the developer community saw an opportunity to transform the flood-damaged, working class areas of new orleans into a high profit redevelopment project. the developer community's hatchet man, andres duany may emphasize aesthetically pleasing charrettes, but he downplays the plan's lowered density, compromised public transit (public transit is often seen as an enabler of the poorer classes), and a displacement of the original inhabitants.
the redevelopment of new orleans has many parallels with the urban redevelopment projects of the postwar era. back then, socioeconomically disadvantaged inner-city minority areas were demolished to make room for highways. these highways were needed to connect the then-new suburban areas to downtown. it was justified in the name of modernism. the various periodicals covering 1950s-60s urban renewal projects presented it as a battle between the forces of modern progress vs. some ungrateful luddite 'coloreds'. when we now view those events through the lens of history, we see the needless destruction of functioning areas and how it was really motivated by developer profits.
in present-day new orleans, inexpensive inner-city areas are targeted for demolition, ostensibly to be replaced by more beautiful, 'historic' architecture. but in the end, it's just a newer twist on an old story. the existing community is to be razed, the land parcels redeveloped, and the developers make money. back then, destruction was in the name of modern progress. this time, it's destruction for the sake of historicist architecture. but... it's really about the money.
if you're interested in the plight of new orleans, you should chat with some of the affected residents, or talk to some civil rights lawyers, or read some of the non-mainstream news outlets(i.e. the ones that aren't issuing PR releases under the guise of news).