Monday, September 27, 2010

A Sense of the Senselessness

One of the key things to keep in mind when assessing the LSU/VA Hospitals project is that the site is located squarely within the Mid-City National Register Historic District.  That's not a mere local historic district.  It's a nationally recognized district - one that highlights the fact that the historic architecture in the district is important not only to the city, but the entire country.

The map above shows you the rough outline of The Footprint superimposed against the backdrop of the Historic District.  Here's the original of the map courtesy of the PRC.

It's also important to remember that the design of the proposed hospitals is very much sprawling suburban in style - the buildings do not rise more than about 7 stories high.  They also feature, especially on the LSU side, acres of surface parking lot.  They would look appropriate in, say...Iowa City.  But not in the heart of New Orleans.

Taken together, it's not difficult to see the senselessness of the plan.  Not only is the site unfortunate, but the plans by LSU and the VA make it all the more unfortunate because they fail to do all they can to minimize their impact on the city, its cultural legacy, and its historic street fabric - the thing that makes the city different from every other American city and the reason we have a National Register Historic District in the first place.

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