Mississippi's Governer Learns A New Word: 'Charrette'

The prominence of the Congress for the New Urbanism in the Katrina rebuilding effort seems to be making some professionals -- such as architect Eric Owen Moss to author Mike Davis -- nervous.

"The idea that New Urbanists such as Duany and Calthorpe may be helping to write plans for the new Gulf Coast has horrified many architects and left-leaning cultural critics â€" revealing, in the process, quite a bit about the ambitions and anxieties that mark contemporary architectural practice in this country.

...While the uproar has been highly entertaining for fans of architectural gossip, it raises two important questions: What is it about New Urbanism that makes so many architects so nervous, if not apoplectic? And how did the CNU manage to establish a beachhead along the Gulf Coast so quickly? The answer to the second question, as it turns out, helps provide clues about the first.

...The debate about the New Urbanists' influence in Katrina reconstruction efforts and the way it has begun to ricochet from the Gulf Coast to Washington, D.C., to Southern California in the end has broad ramifications for contemporary architecture.

It comes at a time when cutting-edge designers such as Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid enjoy an unprecedented level of celebrity and public recognition yet have failed to find influence in government â€" particularly American government or suburban America or with big developers.

The New Urbanists, meanwhile, have been more skilled at making themselves welcome on Main Street and in the corridors of power â€" even as their stock among fellow architects, particularly young and urban ones, has plummeted."

Full Story: In the rush to rebuild, a house divided

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