Waterfront Redevelopment

New Orleans, US | 2006


While the social, political and physical challenges of New Orleans are complex the fundamental imperative is simple: to provide an open accessible public space for all New Orleans, and to create a continuous unobstructed public waterfront park-scape with outstanding spaces and outstanding architecture.  We are proposing a system capable of responding to changes to program and use over time by the negotiation of various sectional conditions and staging of the development. As a project this ambitious will not be built overnight, it requires a strategy which structures the delivery of the project in phases so that it will function from the beginning. It is not a masterplan awaiting completion, but instead a scenario plan which enables it to be functional from the outset.  Not a 2D masterplan but instead a 3D mat urbanism: a strategy to link the waterfront to the city, negotiating existing and new large footprint urbanism in the development of a heterogeneous public realm. This new strategy takes advantage of the sectional difference inherent in the Mississippi levy at New Orleans, as the key to developing a coherent yet flexible urbanism along the entire length of the crescent. A mat urbanism strategy is the essential tool for the development of a policy for the integration and financing of low income housing, small and minority owned business with large footprint programs.  This strategy will draw people into the heart of the city and will help to reinstate New Orleans as the energetic focus of the region, while simultaneously rejuvenating the adjacent neighborhoods.


Public and private partnership is required in the crafting a policy to foster the development of low income housing, small business at a human scale on the upper surfaces of the mat, financed through the development of big box retail at the base of the mat these functions are treated in effect as public utilities: functioning yet hidden.  High density housing low rise living are developed on and within a layered mat structure: Park and public recreation run along the top surface for the entire length of the New O development and suburban amenities are now treated as city utilities.  Large footprint programs, big box supermarkets, parking etc occupy ground level at the city edge at the base of the existing levy and flood wall. The provision of these amenities within a heterogeneous urbanism will make the New O development a powerful attractor to draw back those New Orleanians who have decamped to the suburbs.  This Mat Urbanism strategy enables both the negotiation of existing large scale barriers (such as the trainline, port facilities, warehouses etc) to the waterfront with new large footprint programs, sorely needed as civic amenities.

Project Info

Type: Research Project  |  Structure: Multiple


Project Credits


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto

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