Hurricane Katrina, Three Years Later

[photo taken in May…2008]

It’s the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. For new readers who may not have followed this blog from the beginning, Life Without Buildings was conceived in a French Quarter alley and born on a Garden District Balcony into the depressing heat of a New Orleans summer and post-architecture school ennui. Then came Hurricane Katrina and for a while it became a rarely-udpated travelogue of evacuation, the end result of which was an apartment in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood. Leaving New Orleans might have been the hardest decision I’ve ever made and not one single day has passed where I haven’t wondered if I chose wrong.

This Friday’s links are a collection of posts written about The Big Easy — some while I was living there and some about the city’s redevelopment. I’d also like to again ask everyone to send a letter to in defense of preserving New Orleans Regional Modernism before its nothing but a memory. Comments can be sent to For more information, please check out the collection of links posted at Archinect.

  • Modern in New Orleans: A Bike Tour: Just a few days before evacuating, I took my new bike for a ride around town to document some of the more recently built contemporary architecture in the New Orleans.

  • New Orleans in Exile: The evacuation post. At this point we really didn’t have any idea of just how bad things were going to get…

  • Evacuation Day 10: “You don’t need me to tell you that things are pretty bad in new orleans right now. It’s been a strange time. I don’t really know when i’ll be able to return to work, much less when i’ll be able to return to the city. my apartment seems to be ok and my friends are safe, but it pains me to say that some of them have been left homeless. The seriousness of this catastrophe is finally catching up with me and its unbelievably frustrating to be able to do nothing.”

  • N.O. Return: Some thoughts on returning to New Orleans after two months of nomadism. “Previously abstract portions of the city fabric have gained a new power in their absence – phantom pains in a dismembered city. A fallen tree and its resulting absent canopy, an empty lot, missing street lights… Although at times it was difficult to specify what had changed, things were different. That first day, the overall effect was incredibly disorienting.”

  • Katrina Memories, Looking Back After Two Years: Notes from the moleskin I thankfully had with me during the evacuation. “Day 4. Drove all night across Texas. Never again. Rumors abound. Fires? looting? militias? martial law? Friends stuck in the city? Friends getting airlifted out? It’s impossible to know what’s ACTUALLY happening. Over the next few days, we seemed to take turns breaking down, everyone in their own way. This is a frustration I’ve never known.”

  • Stealing Magnolias: Looting continues in New Orleans, only this time thieves aren’t after sneakers and flatscreen tv’s. Their new prize? Cornices, window shutters, and other architectural ornaments.

  • The New New Orleans Riverfront: The proposed adaptive reuse of the old Rice Mill in New Orleans’ Bywater Neighborhood. A beautiful and sustainable project that will hopefully one day be realized.

  • Local Architects Shaping the New New Orleans: A look at some of the post-Katrina greatest hits from local architects.

  • “The Architectural Soul of the City at Stake”: Reprinted from an excellent article in the New Orleans Times Picayune 2 years after the storm.

  • Third URBANbuild House Almost Complete: A closeup look at the Architecture School house during a trip back to New Orleans last May.

  • It’s Pinup Tme for The Sundance Channel’s Architecture School:In today’s reality-TV obsessed culture, any architecture student who has spent an all-nighter (i.e. every architecture student) working in studio has had the 4 am amphetamine-induced epiphany, “hey, someone should make this into a reality show.” Well now someone has.

  • ReNew Orleans: Thom Mayne’s Plan. Yeah…we’re guessing this one never comes up again.

  • For some amazing work by New Orleans area artists and writers, check out the beautifully designed journal Constance, which was recently listed in the New Orleans 100. An interview with the duo behind Constance can be read at PSFK.

  • Also on the New Orleans 100: Defend New Orleans. Why not head to the website and buy a shirt from this “fashion and lifestyle brand that embosses the attitude and lifestyle of New Orleans from the people that live it everyday.”

  • The Gustave Tracker

3 replies on “Hurricane Katrina, Three Years Later”

I bet self-promoting ambulance-chaser, Daniel Libeskind, is praying that there is a disaster so he can rush before the cameras again and promote of of his stupid designs to “save” the victimes. This disgusting animal tried to have his biography released on the 3rd anniversary of September 11 so he could do book-signings at memorial events marking the tragedy. What a low-class opportunist.

I have just recently been to New Orleans, and while some places are fixed other places are TERRRIBLLEE! Someone needs to get in there and take charge with the funding and get these people out of the mobile homes they are forced to live in and into new homes, or what was once their own home if possible.

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