Establishing New Centers – Master Thesis

PROCESS was guided by the desire to answer two questions, (1) how can participatory civic interventions create new areas of centrality that catalyze New Orleans neighborhoods frayed by blight? and (2) how can New Orleans’ duality, being both a shrunken city and a rapidly growing city, influence the scale and speed of response from public investment in neighborhoods affected by the city’s contraction over the past half-decade?

RESULT This thesis purported that architecture was best suited as the medium to formalize new civic centers and catalyze growth while addressing the singularities of each specific neighborhood they seeked to occupy. The architectural device was designed to be adaptable and accommodate customization and expandability, all while assimilating into the scale of each neighborhood. The state of vacancy and blight in New Orleans demonstrates the volatility of a changing city. This instability was addressed through a new arrangement of centralities that worked to catalyze proximal growth. The thesis proposed these new centers would be public investments that blended a mix of civic program with a framework for private commercial investment. The creation of a new center acts as an anchor for further private development in areas that have struggled to receive this type of investment in the past. The pieces that compose the architectural intervention would be addressed in phases, anticipating reciprocal growth as a way of informing its scale over time.

INSIGHT The project showed me the value of in depth research to provide new insight. It provided a platform to explore vacancy and blight as an opportunity to reshape cities in a more effective and equitable fashion.