Testing Grounds

Housing development, architecture and community building have found a new learning lab in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
October 19, 2009, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Four years after Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans is not proceeding the way anyone envisioned, nor with the expected cast of characters. (If I may emphasize: Brad Pitt is the city's most innovative and ambitious housing developer.) But it's hard to say what people were expecting, given the magnitude of the disaster and the hopes raised in the weeks immediately following. Seventeen days after the storm, President George W. Bush stood in Jackson Square and promised: 'We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.'"

"...In the absence of strong central leadership, the rebuilding has atomized into a series of independent neighborhood projects. And this has turned New Orleans-moist, hot, with a fecund substrate that seems to allow almost anything to propagate-into something of a petri dish for ideas about housing and urban life. An assortment of foundations, church groups, academics, corporate titans, Hollywood celebrities, young people with big ideas, and architects on a mission have been working independently to rebuild the city's neighborhoods, all wholly unconcerned about the missing master plan. It's at once exhilarating and frightening to behold."

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Published on Friday, October 16, 2009 in The Atlantic
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