Notes from New Orleans: Our Comments on Proposed VA Medical Center Designs

Posted on: May 14th, 2009 by Walter Gallas

This past week we submitted comments on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the four latest design schemes for the proposed VA medical center in New Orleans. If plans do not change, this medical center is to be built on 30 acres of land (10 square blocks) cleared of 123 historic houses, within the Mid-City National Register District. Next to this hospital, Louisiana State University plans to build its new academic medical center after clearing even more land -- another 39 acres.

We have repeatedly asked early in the historic preservation and environmental review processes why either institution needed so much land. We were told by the VA that the size of its site was mandated by federal setback requirements after the bombing in Oklahoma City and the 9/11 attacks. In the case of the VA designs, we learned this week that it is possible to "harden" a structure as another means of meeting the setback requirement, raising yet another question about why so much unnecessary land is being taken and so many extra homes needlessly bulldozed.

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The four proposed designs (PDFs)

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