What will New Orleans look like 10 years from now?
The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects is posing the question even as it is rolls out a new exhibit that addresses how the city’s built environment has changed in the decade post Hurricane Katrina.
Called “10 Years/10 Stories,” the exhibit opens Saturday, Aug. 1, with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the AIA New Orleans Center for Design, 1000 St. Charles Ave., and remains on view through Sept. 26. The free exhibit can be viewed weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We have organized the exhibit around themes that have been important in rebuilding the city,” said Mary Gilmore, AIA, leader of the committee of young professional architects planning the show.
Like Gilmore, many of the members of the committee were not living in New Orleans when the storm struck and turned the city on its head.
“I came just five years ago, and many of my colleagues either came to help with the recovery and then stayed, or came because of the economic opportunity,” Gilmore said. “So putting the exhibit together and researching what went on and the role that architects have played has been an education for us.”
If the local AIA chapter has its way, it will be an education for the public, as well.
“Works by architects often appear in the media without any credit going to them or their names even being mentioned,” said Gilmore. “We’re hoping that the exhibit will help educate the public and build awareness of what we do.”
Rather than a linear presentation laid out on walls of the AIA Center for Design, the exhibit will be mounted on 10 columns — one for each core theme, plus one for “What’s Next?” — that invite the viewer to walk around them and explore a variety of projects.
Themes include community engagement, culture, design awareness, environment, equality, finance, growth, policy and resiliency. Gilmore said more than 50 recent architectural projects are highlighted, representing works by dozens of architects from a wide variety of architectural firms.
One of the featured projects is the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, for which Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and architect Jose Alvarez won a coveted AIA “COTE” award in April.
“The AIA’s Committee on the Environment recognizes just 10 projects a year for sustainability and environmental sensitivity,” Gilmore said. This is the third time (in the 19 years the awards have been given) that a project in Louisiana has been chosen.
Gilmore, on staff at Campo Architects, said many of her colleagues play pro bono roles in the community and cited Ray Manning as the president pro-tem of the Sewerage and Water Board.
“In his volunteer role, he gets to bring the architect’s perspective to issues, like living with water and green infrastructure, and so he is helping to shape policy and the city’s future,” she said.
Guests who attend the exhibit will have the opportunity to voice their ideas about “What’s Next?” by filling out cards and adding them to the exhibit. Then, on Thursday, Aug. 27, a panel of experts will discuss challenges and opportunities for the built environment over the next 10 years. The panel discussion is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. at the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St.).
R. Stephanie Bruno can be reached at rstephaniebruno @gmail.com.