The Van Alen Institute in partnership with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) has announced the selection of three multidisciplinary teams as finalists for Future Ground, a competition that is bringing together leading experts in design, policy, and community development from around the country with local stakeholders to tackle the challenges of reusing vacant land in New Orleans. WAN’s Business Information Service advertised the competition in August 2014: click here to view the brief.
The three Future Ground finalists are:
Team LEX, led by Kristi Cheramie of Ohio State University with Jacob Boswell, Mattijs van Maasakkers, and Jennie Miller. Team LEX has proposed The New Orleans Land Exchange (NOLEX), a projective framework designed to move vacant parcels from tax delinquency to productive lands in order to protect public health and safety.
Team PaD, led by James Dart of the New Orleans-based design firm DARCH with Deborah Gans, LoriAnn Girvan, and Marc Norman. Team PaD will explore policy as a design tool, considering alternative property, development, legal and fiscal structures to reconsider the city's established design policies in the context of its collective post-Katrina capital of ideas.
Team Stoss, led by Chris Reed, Scott Bishop, and Amy Whitesides of the Boston-based design firm STOSS Landscape Urbanism with Ann Yoachim, Byron Stigge, Jonathan Tate, Kate Kennen, Liz Ogbu, Jill Desimini, Teresa Lynch, and Michael Brady. Team Stoss will focus on developing strategies for New Orleans that build on local energies; that leverage the ecological, infrastructural, and civic values of landscape; and that catalyse new social, cultural, environmental, and economic dynamics throughout the city.
"The selected teams represent the best of what our competitions can do: bring talented professionals together to take on complex issues and come up with bold solutions." said Van Alen Institute Executive Director David van der Leer.
"We're proud that the latest project in our 120-year history of organising competitions will help catalyse innovative solutions in New Orleans and in cities worldwide facing similar challenges," he added.
"As New Orleans nears the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Future Ground presents an exciting opportunity for us to consider how the land NORA manages, along with the tens of thousands of privately owned vacant properties in the city, can be used to make our city less flood-prone, safer, and more beautiful," said NORA Executive Director Jeff Hebert.
"It's an opportunity to engage in visionary thinking while not losing sight of our urgency to act now, and to scale up the work NORA and countless others in New Orleans have done to creatively and sustainably reuse vacant land," he added.
Developing innovative strategies
Each team will now receive a US$15,000 stipend to develop innovative, flexible strategies for reusing vacant land today and over the next 50 years. They began their work last week and will now meet with local experts and stakeholders, tour NORA properties citywide.
Future Ground will culminate in the release of a final report in spring 2015 outlining short- and long-term design and policy strategies for New Orleans as a case study for cities around the world. NORA plans to begin implementation of the best ideas immediately following the conclusion of the competition.
The three teams will work closely with a group of regional experts in landscape architecture, demographics, geography, climate change, and real estate to forecast scenarios for how New Orleans might change in 2015, 2025, and 2065. The teams' strategies for land reuse will incorporate and adapt to these potential changes. An Advisory Committee of local and national leaders in vacant land issues will also guide the teams' work.
The teams include architects, landscape architects, urban planners, engineers, lawyers, brownfield experts, and community development and finance specialists from New Orleans and six other cities in the US and Canada. A jury of national leaders in design and policy selected the teams from a pool of more than 180 individuals from 17 countries around the world who responded to an open Request for Qualifications.
The competition is supported by NORA, which manages more than 2,000 vacant lots and has become a national leader in reuse of vacant land for community resilience and development. NORA and Van Alen Institute will select the best proposals from the three teams to be implemented on NORA-managed properties.
Future Ground is the first of several competitions to be launched as part of Van Alen Institute's Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape, a multi-year initiative of competitions, research, and public programmes exploring how both the form and organisation of the built environment influence our need for escape. Van Alen Institute's concurrent competition National Parks Now, hosted in partnership with the National Park Service, has invited multidisciplinary teams of young professionals to develop strategies for reshaping the visitor experience at four national parks in the Northeast.