New Orleans Projects Paint the Town Green

Posted on: February 22nd, 2008 by Preservation magazine 1 Comment

 

ICINolaNew Orleans has never been known for its strong environmental conscience. Until five years ago, the city measured the success of each Mardi Gras by the number of tons of trash generated, and for many, recycling meant reusing the plastic cups caught at parades. In some neighborhoods, curbside recycling programs struggled due to lack of participation. Today, two and a half years after Katrina, residents and social and environmental activists are sweeping away old notions, but some say too much is being lost in the process.

Seeds of Change—and Dissent

Actor Brad Pitt and his Make It Right project have snagged media attention recently, debuting plans to replace 150 Lower Ninth Ward houses with sustainable, eco-friendly dwellings. The project has generated a positive buzz, in part because the targeted area is a Katrina-created wasteland with little, if any, remaining historic character. Other projects around the city are sowing seeds of green hope in some cases, but red-faced anger in others.

In Bywater, a 200-year-old, National Register and local historic district with very little Katrina flooding, a mixed-use loft project is digging a deep rift. New Orleanian Cam Mangham and her partner, Shea Embry, are developing ICInola, which Mangham says will be the city's first LEED-certified, mixed-use development. Plans for the development, anticipated to open in spring 2009, involve partially deconstructing, renovating, and rebuilding a historic manufacturing plant and recycling much of its materials. The plant and a second, new building will be developed with eco-friendly features like roof gardens and solar panels. Two more structures will come later; a total of 105 lofts and 50,000 square feet of commercial space on 2.76 acres.

Neighbors opposed to the project have formed the Bywater Civic Association to fight it. "The project is completely out of scale and context, and the design is too modern for such a historic neighborhood," says BCA organizing committee member Blake Vonderhaar. Vonderhaar says that hundreds of people have committed to boycott any store that leases space there. "They keep saying we can't have replica buildings because they don't want to turn New Orleans into Disneyland. But there has to be a reasonable solution that is appropriate to an historic neighborhood," Vonderhaar says.... Read More →

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California Silk Mill in Limbo

Posted on: February 21st, 2008 by Margaret Foster 4 Comments

 

Petaluma Silk MillResidents of Petaluma, Calif., north of San Francisco, are hoping another developer will step forward to renovate its 1892 silk mill after 26 investors backed out of a condo project late last year.

Designed by San Francisco architect Charles Havens and renovated in 1922 by Brainerd Jones, the Georgian revival factory is on the market for $7.5 million. In October, the city stymied investors when it said that the project couldn't proceed until the city adopts a new general plan that addresses water conservation--probably sometime in April, according to the city's mayor, Pam Torliatt.

"It was a timing issue," Torliatt says. "The status of our general plan not only affected this development project; it has affected many development projects. We've been in a de facto building moratorium, and legally we weren't able to do anything."... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Volunteers To Mend Martin Luther King Assassination Site

Posted on: February 19th, 2008 by Margaret Foster

 

Lorraine MotelNext month a group of volunteers will spend 48 hours repairing Memphis’s most infamous motel. The Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 1991 on the site of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, will get a coat of paint and other repairs from Hampton Hotel’s Save-A-Landmarks program.

"Some of the exhibits and exteriors need work," says Chris Epting, spokesman for Hampton Hotels, which earlier this month announced its plans send 200 volunteers to the National Civil Rights Museum before April 4. "We thought this would be a good chance, since it's the 40th anniversary, to help out."

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

 

A panel discussion called “At Risk: 20th Century Urban Design and Architecture” drew at least 150 people to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art this past week. Panel moderator was New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussof. Also participating were Ferrell Guillory, director of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina and a former New Orleans States-Item reporter; Sally Hernandez-Pinero, former chairwoman of the New York City Housing Authority; New Orleans architects Arthur Q. Davis and Ray Manning; and Jack Davis of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The discussion ranged from the threats to Charity Hospital and city school buildings to the loss of St. Frances Cabrini Church, but finally settled primarily on a discussion of the public housing developments. One of the audience members, Rev. Marshall Truehill, put it so eloquently this way: “We need to keep in mind that the buildings have become symbols of what has been distasteful, and rather than deal with the source of the distaste, we’d rather tear down the building.” Jack Davis noted that the city’s penchant for demolition was rooted in the mayor’s need to show progress—of any kind—in an administration short of notable accomplishments. Meanwhile demolition is proceeding on the newer non-historic sections of the B.W. Cooper housing development, and at the C.J. Peete housing development. We’re not sure what’s going on with Lafitte and St. Bernard, so I wrote a letter to the president of the City Council this past Friday asking for information.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Detroit's Tiger Stadium May Be Partially Demolished this Spring

Posted on: February 15th, 2008 by Preservation magazine 2 Comments

 

Tiger StadiumIn the cult baseball movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner is called upon to be a preservationist of a different sort. To rekindle the love of baseball, he's inspired to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field: "If you build it, they will come," a voice tells him. In the case of Detroit's Tiger Stadium, however, the baseball field already exists. This former major-league ballpark is 112 years old. The challenge, instead, involves sowing the seeds that will continually bring people to come see it. After all, the last major league ballgame was played here in 1999—and plans for its partial demolition have been slated for spring.

If making the claim that America's love affair with baseball is largely wrapped up in the places where it is played sounds like sensationalist dribble, ask any fan who grew up going to a local ballpark. They'll likely tell you of familiar smells: roasted peanuts, hot dogs, popcorn, freshly cut grass. They'll mention the vantage point from which clouds of orange dust can be seen when a player slides into home plate. They'll talk of the stacks of lights that illuminate an outdoor theater where outfielders dive for fly balls and fans from upper decks swear they saw the play better than the umpire. "Playing fields like Tiger Stadium are considered hallowed ground," says Francis Grunow, executive director of locally-based Preservation Wayne.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.