The American Institute of Architects' Center for Communities by Design, in accordance with the AIA's long-standing commitment to public service, will conduct a pro-bono design assistance project on the Elysian Fields Avenue Corridor in downtown New Orleans.
The effort, known in the architecture world as a charrette, will take place May 8 through 11, just before the AIA's annual convention in New Orleans convenes May 12-14. It culminates in a final presentation to the community on May 11 at Dillard University at 6:30 p.m.
The AIA will lead a multi-disciplinary team of national experts, in partnership with Eskew, Dumez & Ripple, a leading New Orleans firm. The team will be led by Todd Scott, AIA, who has been involved in and led design assistance projects in places as diverse as Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Maine. Scott will work with city officials, residents and corridor stakeholders to analyze existing conditions along the corridor and form a set of design recommendations for its future.
The charrette will involve public tours, stakeholder work sessions, public workshops, interviews, and design studio sessions with partners from the New Orleans design community. The team's work will focus on both the corridor as a whole, as well as strategic sites that lend themselves to urban design interventions. The project will build upon the current momentum in New Orleans to revamp its major streets for livability and economic revitalization.
"The AIA's Center for Communities by Design builds on the AIA's four-decade legacy of working with communities and assembling some of the best architectural talent the country has to offer for projects just like this one," said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. "As we assemble in New Orleans to dialogue on the importance of designing our cities and their regions to ensure that ecology matters, this specific endeavor is but one example of the AIA's commitment to the city of New Orleans and its revitalization."
In the cultural life of the city, Elysian Fields Avenue is in part notable for being the fictional setting for Tennessee Williams' play "A Streetcar Named Desire." Its importance from a redevelopment perspective derives from its unique position in the city's urban landscape. It is the only avenue in all of New Orleans that connects the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain with a single, straight, north-south line. It was also the first point upon which the city of New Orleans reached the lakefront; as a result it became the axis on which the city developed throughout the area.