Two years after the levees fell, the Lower 9th Ward is ready to rebuild. Zoning, building codes, flood elevations, geotechnical work, and financial assistance have all been set in place. and the need for professional architectural service in the neighborhood is imminent to ensure a safe, healthy and sustainable community.
The Design Studio at the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association (NENA) provides architectural and construction management services to current or returning residents of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. The Design Studio guides residents throughout the entire rebuilding process including property assessment, zoning and code review, building design, cost estimating, drawings for obtaining building permits, contractor selections, bidding and contract negotiation, and construction management.
The goal of NENA is, simply, to bring back the people. The Design Studio is a natural outgrowth of that goal by empowering residents with all the information they need to rebuild.
By establishing over a dozen services to residents, the Design Studio is capable of entering a project at any stage of design and construction. This, coupled with standardized specifications, instructions for bidders, and contracts, allows the studio to serve the thousands of residents in need effectively and efficiently. In addition, it allows the Design Studio the ability to protect residents against predatory or unlicensed builders
The Design Studio is an integral component of NENA's case management system and part of its Housing Development program which also includes gap finance, community land trust, and other building assistance. As such, the Design Studio has established sustainable design criteria to promote development throughout the Lower 9th Ward that balances social, economic and environmental benefit for all residents. These criteria are used not only to guide in-house design, but also as a guide for incoming developers, designers and builders who wish to help rebuild the Lower 9th sustainably.
The Design Studio is reaching out to the local design community to create a base of designs and details to deal with the many challenges residents face while rebuilding in the lower 9th. The Tulane City Center, the local AIA chapter, Americorps, and the University of Minnesota are all among the many strategic partners working to help the Design Studio develop affordable and sustainable homes.
The Design Studio is made possible by start-up funding and support from Architecture for Humanity and the United Way. Research, project management, prototype design work, and web design has been made provided by Ben Gauslin via the Jane Jacobs Fellowship.