Welcome to the age of reinvention. Waggonner & Ball Architects have done it this time with their strategy for a comprehensive, integrated water management system for New Orleans. The plan includes the east banks of Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes.
Congrats goes out to these locals for the incredible amount of research and heart that they have put into this overwhelming issue. It has truly prepared them for the task of attacking it on a regional level. Their proposal is a composite of knowledge and experience, to boldly embrace water as an amenity of the delta city in order to keep New Orleans afloat.
The issues in New Orleans are endless. Unique challenges must be addressed such as the climate, hurricane threats, and the infrastructure. With the formation of Dutch Dialogues in 2006 and collaboration with the American Planning Association, Waggonner was able to address issues in New Orleans through the formation of three workshops where Dutch engineers, planners, designers, and soil experts visited New Orleans to develop and discuss potential solutions along with New Orleans’ own.
To address this issue you must first understand the water problem in its full context of infrastructure, geology, history, topogrophy, politics, etc, to create possibilities for the future.
Waggonner & Ball view the water as a positive addition to the city and to the neighborhood. "Their plan for the city includes visible water storage to aid with soil subsidence and flooding. They have also proposed a system to circulate the water in New Orleans by linking canals and major infrastructure. At an even bigger scale, Waggonner & Ball will tackle New Orleans’ water districts and develop them based on the topography, not on the politics. The architects also hope that through pilot projects politicians and residents alike will take notice of the benefits of having water within the city. The full proposal presents a future New Orleans that is actually possible, and could only help the city to stabilize and grow."*
*information received from Archdaily
There's no question that the 2012 Olympics will be a push towards innovation, technology, architecture, urban design, and sustainability. With just under a year to go until the opening ceremonies to the 2012 olympics, you have to wonder how the designers are addressing some of the concerns in the London infrastructure. According to Archdaily, "The London 2012 Games offers a unique opportunity to revitalize the Lower Lea Valley, transforming one of the most underdeveloped areas of the UK into a benchmark 21st century urban environment that reflects the diverse and lively population of the region."
What baffles me about the Olympics is the ability for it to change the course of a city. I've been to London and I love it. There's no doubt in my mind that I want to go back, I should go back, or that I will eventually go back (perhaps next year for the Olympics). London will almost indefinitely change because of the Olympics and the new infrastructure is the designs greatest asset.
The problem that many cities face is what to do with the park after the games are over. Cities like Sydney, Athens, and Barcelona have simply turned the park into a tourist spot. Since my last visit to Barcelona almost two years ago, I was able to visit the olympic park, now almost 50 years old. My experience was weak, I found the park to be deserted besides the few tourists lurking around.
The solution: after the games, the park will be transformed into one of the largest urban parks created in Europe for the last 150 years."The new park will be connected to the tidal Thames Estuary to the south and the Hertfordshire countryside to the north. The canals and waterways of the River Lea will be cleaned and widened, and the natural floodplains of the area will be restored to provide a new wetland habitat for wildlife, which birdwatchers and ecologists can enjoy." Sounds sustainable if you ask me.
Brandon E. Young