Dec 052005

Architectural Record’s:: Special Coverage: After the Hurricanes

Architects and planners weigh in on rebuilding New Orleans

“I think it’s hard for people to understand the staggering extent of the damage. My office is five hours from New Orleans, and we have damage. Even people who weren’t displaced have a lot of work to do.

I worry that the architectural character of the area will change, that people coming in won’t care about community and what our architecture says about our region and our cultural identity. I worry about becoming a cookie cutter region. Whoever takes charge will need to determine needs and what’s important before proceeding. The problems with the relief effort so far make me worry how people can be given back a home with identity.

There’s a big population shift occurring. In our town of 2,500, we already have people coming in wanting to buy, and in Oxford, I hear, there are many more ready to buy at any price. It’s interesting to see how the south will change. Anytime you have populations moving, there’s opportunity. We’re talking about our town’s most historic, not-yet-restored neighborhood becoming a place for people to relocate. The disaster might be an opportunity to turn around some languishing small towns that step up to the plate and fill a need.”

—Belinda Stewart, AIA, Eupora, Mississippi, Belinda Stewart Architects