March 29, 2007

Hurricane Katrina rebuilding Architecture students design proposals for decimated area

by Pete Rosenbery


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE -- Students from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Architecture will travel to New Orleans this weekend to present plans for a community market in one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Residents there will review display panels representing master planning proposals, power point slide shows and models generated by senior architectural studies students, Robert S. Clodi, Christopher J. Malone, and Benjamin J. Boyles. Clodi and Boyles, along with assistant professor Michael D. Brazley and associate professor Robert H. Swenson, will present their ideas for a simple market Monday to the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association. __________________________________________________________________________

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to contact assistant professor Michael D. Brazley and associate professor Robert Swenson while they and the students are in New Orleans. Brazley and Swenson may be reached prior to Saturday at the SIUC School of Architecture at 618/453-3734. While in New Orleans, Swenson may be reached at 618/967-3016 and Brazley may be reached at 618/559-5112.


The organization is holding an open house for its new community center — the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development on Monday, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Residents can view SIUC’s displays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, adjacent to the community center at 5130 Chartres.

The group currently plans to leave from Carbondale at 4 a.m. Saturday and arrive in New Orleans in the late afternoon. On Sunday, they are spending the day in the Lower Ninth Ward meeting with residents and sharing fliers throughout the neighborhood about Monday’s open house. They hope to arrive back in Carbondale by 4 or 5 a.m. Tuesday, in time for classes.

The School of Architecture has been working on several projects since the August 2005 hurricane tore through the Gulf Coast. Clodi, Malone, and Boyles were among approximately 34 School of Architecture students who paid their own way last fall and surveyed about two-thirds of the Lower Ninth Ward, photographing the condition of each house and property. The three students then began an independent study course this semester to continue their relationship with residents in that area, and were asked to provide proposals for the community market, Swenson said.

“The students were passionate about it; you could see the passion,” Brazley said. “It was wonderful. They took something away from the experience.”

There is only one convenience store in the area and the thought is to have a community market located at one of the main intersections to help residents re-center and provide a common place for people to meet, Swenson said. Only about 15 percent of the approximately 22,000 pre-hurricane Lower Ninth Ward residents — about 3,000 people — have been able to return, so far, Swenson said.

Charles E. Allen III, is assistant director for external relations at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier Universities, and also vice-president of the Holy Cross Neighborhood.

The work by SIUC students on this and other projects “is wonderful and most beneficial,” he said.

“Their work further helps our community have a clear and attainable vision for how we wish to see our community redeveloped post-Katrina,” Allen said.

“Their current work for us is focused on a community market, which we hope will be a market that fully exemplifies the concept of passive survivability, in the event of another hurricane or major storm,” he said.

“Our community has gone through a tremendous 2006 year of strategic recovery planning and the SIUC architecture students and faculty have helped us greatly articulate various elements and projects of our overall sustainable recovery plan,” he said. “We greatly appreciate SIUC and consider them to be life-long partners of our community.”

Boyles is the son of James and Sharon Boyles of Morrison; Malone is the son of Michael Malone and Dianne Terrell-Malone of Fairview Heights, and Clodi, from Kankakee, is the son of Richard Clodi and Denise Whitaker.

The School of Architecture is part of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. Dean Paul D. Sarvela said the project is a credit to everyone involved.

“We are just proud that our faculty and students have been invited to present ideas on how to improve the community,” he said.

The SIUC projects extend “from the top to the bottom of the delta, and it is allowing us to share our expertise with each other,” Sarvela said. “It’s a great learning experience for our students and a wonderful example of how SIUC is trying to make a difference not only in Illinois, but beyond.”

A second group of SIUC architecture students are now working on building designs at Tulane University’s RiverSphere complex. While in New Orleans this weekend, Brazley expects to meet with Douglas J. Meffert, the Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River & Coastal Studies at Tulane to provide a project update. Both Meffert and Allen visited the SIUC campus for two days earlier this semester, reviewing student proposals.

Brazley agrees that a partnership has been forged with New Orleans residents. It is also providing an “invaluable” opportunity for SIUC architecture students and faculty, he said. Students are getting the chance to work with real clients and receiving first-hand client-architect contact, he said.

Caption: Heading to New Orleans — Three Southern Illinois University Carbondale students and their professors from the School of Architecture will be in New Orleans this weekend to present proposals Monday for a community market in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The students are among several architectural studies students who have been working on various projects to assist the city. Pictured left to right with neighborhood maps of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward are: senior Christopher J. Malone, associate professor Robert H. Swenson, senior Benjamin J. Boyles, assistant professor Michael D. Brazley, and senior Robert S. Clodi.

Photo by Steve Buhman