The Cooper Union
School of Architecture

Click on an image for larger view.


Professors Diane Lewis, Peter Schubert, Daniel Sherer, Mersiha Veledar, and Georg Windeck

Architecture Inspired by the Cities of Catastrophe from Atlantis to Hiroshima
A Civic Architecture for Post-flood New Orleans
Many schools and architects in practice have done projects for New Orleans which are predominantly housing for the post flood population. It is clear that many of the proposals from a wide range of sources remind of a repetition of the failed post war urban renewal housing and show no consciousness of the necessity to integrate civic program and inventive public space with a new vision of residential structure in order to anchor and enrich a new incarnation of the rich and varied culture personified in the city of New Orleans. The psyche and the poetry of the city and its inhabitants were studied in parallel with the following project development in the form of the great literature inspired by the city by such authors as Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.

The first day of studio our team of five faculty presented a series of plans, maps, and satellite images in a discussion that revealed the relation between the founding city plan of New Orleans and architectural roots from the Roman plan to the Bastide. The later city plans, from the founding to the present, revealed morphologic transformations relating to geography, flood plains, commerce, war, and other urban forces. The satellite images located the city within a global image of the Mississippi Delta, the Gulf and the weather.

With this study as the initiative, each participant selected a city that had undergone a disaster, either natural or man-made, and precipitated a definitive architectural solution/ urban vision. The catastrophes include: FIRE, FLOOD, FAMINE, EARTHQUAKE, VOLCANIC ERUPTION, DAMNATIO MEMORIA, BOMBING, GENOCIDE, URBAN RENEWAL.

Model projects from cities as far ranging as the mythic Atlantis and the cultural evacuation of Matera were studied, and the architectural visions that inspired by the destruction of the city or its precincts.