Modernists invade Nola

The academic Modernists really don’t deserve to be taken seriously: as Susan Stone reports in Der Spiegel Online, a Morphosis proposal [“illustration”:,1020,585866,00.jpg%5D seriously proposes abandoning three-fourths of New Orleans. The proposal states: “Given the prediction that the city, even three years out, will have lost 50 percent of its population, and the general assumption of uncertainty, the city realistically can neither re-build infrastructure nor resume services at pre-Katrina levels.” The Dutch curator of this exhibit calls the proposal “frank” and “most realistic,” and Morphosis has indeed built work — much of it for famously blindered public clients.

This hardly shows that Thom Mayne is off his rocker; indeed, it’s eminently sensible, ecologically and logically realistic to let southern Louisiana return to its naturally swampy state. Yet these people still don’t have a clue about the political and social realities of the world, which simply refuses to fit into ziggy little glass boxes. Residents of even the lowest-lying neighborhoods are angrily shouting down anyone who says that their homes and neighborhoods should be left to cattails and alligators. This hardly bodes well for the High Modernists’ ability to successfully navigate politics and actually build something.

And besides, this is somehow a new idea? This looks substantially similar to the Bring Back New Orleans Commission’s plan, primarily written by WRT (where CNU co-founder Dan Solomon and former board member Jonathan Barnett work), which at least proposed a method for identifying neighborhoods that could be either resettled or abandoned. Of course, that idea went down in flames as well.