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Tulane School of Architecture (TuSA) is open, post-Hurricane Ida. We are currently operating with remote instruction. In-person instruction will resume on Sept. 27. For more information about Tulane's response and reopening, visit the university's Forward TUgether website. TuSA students should check their emails for important return-to-campus instructions.

Design-build studio 'apothecarts' recognized with Design Educates Award

Photo outdoors in a parking lot with a student sitting on a bike that has an attached cart with drawers and cabinets

Tulane School of Architecture students and faculty won a Bronze Award in Responsive Design from international nonprofit Design Educates. Through the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, the Fall 2020 design-build studio collaborated with nonprofit Solitary Gardens to create an apothecart: a mobile apothecary cart towed by bike. 

The Small Center's studio, which is one of the school's multi-year Research Studios, works to confront big questions about designing for justice and healing through small scale intervention. The Fall 2020 studio collaborated with community partner Jackie Sumell, founder of local non-profit Solitary Gardens, in order to design and build carts to distribute herbal medicine, grown by her organization, to communities in New Orleans affected by mass incarceration. What came out of this collaboration was the idea of an apothecart: a mobile apothecary cart which is towed by bike. The studio designed and built two apothecarts which they have named Armadillo and Camelback. The carts are filled with plant medicine from the Prisoner’s Apothecary, and are used to catalyze public conversations at the intersection of healthcare, social justice, public art, and prison abolition.

The studio faculty lead was Professor of Practice Emilie Taylor Welty, along with Adjunct Lecturer Nick Jenisch, who served as project manager. Studio students, a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students, were Elizabeth Bateman, Jeremy Baudy, Anna Deeg, Claire Divito, Rebecca Dunn, Adrian Evans, Danelle Martin, Danielle Scheeringa, Bhumika Shirole, Zach Speroni, James Rennert, and Dana Ridenour. Small Center staff invovled in the work were Jose Cotto, Rashidah Williams, and Ann Yoachim.

For more about the apothecart design-build, click here.


Earth Lab design-build studio wins national Architectural Education Award

Earth Lab, a design-build project completed by Tulane architecture students, faculty and staff at the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, was recently awarded a national 2020 Architectural Education Award, by the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Designed and built during the Small Center's Fall 2018 studio at the Tulane School of Architecture, the project was one of three awarded in the ACSA's Design-Build category this year. The studio integrated research on local vernacular building traditions, and involved working closely with a diverse group of local stakeholders. Throughout, the studio sought to combine, hybridize, and discover new possibilities for architecture at the intersection of advanced digital fabrication technologies and sustainable, vernacular methods.

Earth Lab is a multipurpose outdoor classroom, event space, and community facility run by the local nonprofit organization Groundwork. The project provides a new space for the nonprofit, which educates local grade school students about environmental conservation, water management, and urban agriculture. Earth Lab takes cues from the local urban fabric and simultaneously creates a distinctive, vibrant, colorful space befitting the work of the nonprofit. Anchoring the project is a 410 square foot outdoor classroom and gathering space, framed by two 16-foot concrete gable-profile walls, and paved with custom concrete tiling. The walls and pavers are dyed blue with pigment in varying proportions, to create a gradient from dark blue at the ground, to nearly white at the top of the gables. Patterned relief on the surface of the concrete walls was created through the application of a custom set of CNC (computer numerically controlled) form liner.

Earth Lab was designed, built, and constructed in a single semester by a team of 14 students, led by Assistant Professor Adam Modesitt and Nick Jenisch, Adjunct Lecturer and Project Manager at the Small Center. The architecture students on the team were: Michelle Barrett; Kay Curtis; Dana Elliot; Jacqueline Esmay; Jared Faske; Dylan Goldweit-Denton; Clayton Hakes; Emily Kanner; Bryn Koeppel; Riley Lacalli; Caroline LaFleche; Collin Moosbrugger; Margaret Swinford; and Max Warshaw.

Read more about the Earth Lab project on the Small Center website here. Read more about the ACSA 2020 Architectural Education Awards here.

Small Center celebrates national design award

A young man dropped into the concrete bowl beneath the overpass, the wheels of his skateboard drowned out by the roar of commuters on the interstate above him. Others tried out a temporary makeshift ramp cobbled together from pallets and plywood. Rain poured off the overpass, falling into rain gardens designed to prevent pooling water from ruining the fun.

On Tuesday, October 29, an award ceremony was held at Parisite Skate Park, New Orleans’ first and only official public skatepark and a silver medal winner for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.

Founded by architect Simeon Bruner, the national design contest recognizes transformative urban places distinguished by their economic and social contributions to America’s cities. Medalists reflect the diversity of urban excellence and yield fresh ideas and perspectives that challenge our assumptions and increase our understanding of how to make great urban places.

Tulane School of Architecture’s Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design collaborated with Transitional Spaces, a non-profit organization representing the local skater community, to work with the City of New Orleans and see the skater’s vision for the park come to fruition.

Parisite was driven and created by the park’s users as opposed to a traditional top down approach, observed Rudy Bruner Award Director Anne-Marie Lubenau.

The ceremony was followed by a reception and panel discussion at the Small Center. The panel featured members of the design team and representatives from the Mayor’s office, Transitional Spaces and the Bruner Foundation. It focused on the park’s creation, lessons learned, and its potential for informing the process of communal park design.

“Parisite is an example of how the Small Center’s process of collaborative community-driven design allows groups with divergent priorities to work productively to resolve their differences and come together to see projects through to completion,” Small Center Director Ann Yoachim said.

Tulane School of Architecture's community design center nationally recognized for collaborative approach

Thirteen years of working hand-in-hand with partners, students, and faculty has led the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design at the Tulane School of Architecture to be recognized with a national architecture award this week.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture named the Small Center, which is housed within the Tulane School of Architecture, as one of only four Collaborative Practice Award recipients for the 2018-2019 academic year.

In particular, the award highlights the Parasite Skatepark project, a New Orleans park that officially opened in 2015 following years of efforts by local skaters to establish a recreation space. The Small Center provided various types of technical assistance, such as convening stakeholders and designing the park’s masterplan. Ultimately, collaboration between a nonprofit of local skaters, city and state agencies, professional architects, and Tulane students led to the designation of the city’s first official skatepark.

The project shows that the design process can serve as a capacity and coalition builder, said Ann Yoachim, Small Center director and professor of practice at the Tulane School of Architecture. And the award is a reflection of the center’s belief that engagement is a core part of any successful design effort, she said.

“Teaching students to recognize the value of partner expertise, the necessity of a multitude of voices to produce high-quality responsive design projects, and the power of design to address larger societal issues is at a core of the Center’s mandate. We are honored to be recognized by our peers for this commitment,” Yoachim said. “Together, we will continue to work to create a city that is shaped by all.”

“This award is a recognition of the Tulane School of Architecture’s leadership, through the Small Center, in architecture and social engagement. We are committed to supporting our community through high quality design and beauty, which are essential to develop pride and care for neighborhoods,” said Iñaki Alday, dean of the Tulane School of Architecture and Koch Chair in Architecture. “Each project is also an innovative exploration, advancing the field of design and of community engagement processes through multidisciplinary modes, all in the real life.”

Since 1997, the ACSA’s Collaborative Practice Award honors best practices in university-based and community-engaged programs. This award was proposed by Thomas Dutton and Anthony Schuman as a means to recognize ACSA’s commitment to community partnerships in which faculty, students and neighborhood citizens are valued equally and that aim to address issues of social injustice through design.

Small Center project wins AIA Louisiana Honor Award

Hollygrove Shade-Water Pavilion, a project by the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, was recently recognized with an Honor Award in the small project category of the American Institute of Architects Louisiana 2018 design competition.

A nationally recognized panel of judges selected 16 winning projects from 73 entries submitted by architects statewide. The jury noted the Shade-Water Pavilion’s “great relationship between the scale of the human and the scale of the structure” and “incredible concrete bays.”

The pavilion provides an outdoor community gathering area in an unused infrastructural space with a mechanism to collect, display and distribute rain water. Tulane School of Architecture faculty members Judith Kinnard, FAIA and Irene Keil served as design leads with Small Center staff member Nick Jenisch as project manager on the collaborative effort with students, faculty, staff and community partners Carrollton/Hollygrove Community Development Corporation and the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board.

The Small Center is the community design center of the Tulane School of Architecture. Learn more about the center’s work with nonprofit organizations and community groups to provide design services to underserved communities at http://small.tulane.edu.

Housing analysis looks at affordable options for Tremé

Photo by Ryan Rivet.

A neighborhood analysis of housing and health-related issues by Tulane University School of Architecture students and staff at the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design will be used to analyze housing strategies and understand the impacts of potential regulatory changes in Tremé.

Led by Small Center project manager Nick Jenisch, the team used door-to-door surveys, regulatory research and layered mapping to collect and analyze data on access to affordable housing and resources that support public health, including use of parks, public spaces and healthcare facilities. Qualitative surveying was integrated to understand challenges residents face in using local facilities.

“Resident perceptions are what give insight into true accessibility, not just looking at a map to determine whether someone should be able to walk to a certain park,” said Jenisch.

Building on the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance’s finding of the need for more than 33,000 affordable housing units by 2025, the Small Center’s Tremé research examines how this citywide issue could be addressed on a neighborhood level.

“We wanted to see what that would look like within a neighborhood, including new houses on vacant lots, how zoning could accommodate increased density around transit stops, and also how to represent density in a way that is contextually and historically appropriate,” said Jenisch.

The project was conducted in partnership with the Greater Tremé Consortium, a community organization working to preserve neighborhood culture. Findings will inform the consortium’s future advocacy efforts and serve as a model for neighborhood analysis in New Orleans and beyond.

Small Center projects are selected by jury from a yearly request for proposals from community groups and are executed in partnership with the selected organizations and their stakeholders. This project built on previous work with GNOHA and the Small Center’s ongoing relationship with the Greater Tremé Consortium and was made possible by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Tulane University Partnership for Healthcare Innovation.

City of Gretna releases TRUDC's visioning plan for downtown

By Diana Samuels, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Cities often spend big money on civic planning documents that simply sit on a shelf. They don't follow up with the money to make the grand visions a reality.

Gretna is trying to avoid that pitfall with its new "Gretna Downtown 2020." It lays out what its authors describe as small but very effective ways to inject new life into the historic downtown area.

Released Thursday (April 28), the plan is a collaboration between City Hall and Tulane University's Regional Urban Design Center. Rather than undertaking huge projects like new buildings or parks, it recommends focusing on items such as landscaping, nicer crosswalks and shaded seating, and perhaps a splash pad at Memorial Square.

"They're not huge recommendations that would be enormously costly, and we did that on purpose," said Grover Mouton, director of the urban design center. "The city itself is already, I think, in such good shape that if you enhance its core features you really make a huge impact."

The urban design center often works with smaller cities that do not spend big bucks for a major firm to do these types of planning documents. They provide a more affordable rate, and in exchange, Tulane students get real-world experience. Tulane has previously worked in cities such as Mandeville, Slidell and Kenner's Rivertown district. This project is costing Gretna $30,000, and included two public meetings where residents gave their input... Full Article

TSA faculty Sue Mobley and Nick Jenisch publish an article in Conjunctions:Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation

Tulane City Center (TCC) Community Engagement Manager Sue Mobley and Tulane Regional Urban Design Center & TCC Project Manager Nick Jenisch have recently published an article in Conjunctions:Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation.  Entitled "Recovery to Resilience: Finding a Transdisciplinary Approach to Community-Based Design," the piece reflects on collaborative design efforts in the ten years since Katrina, successful and otherwise, profiles New Orleans' pivot from a recovery mentality, and looks forward in identifying the need for interdisciplinary work and improved engagement in community-based design.

Tulane Regional Urban Design Centercollaborates with the City of Gretna

The Tulane Regional Urban Design Center has been working in collaboration with the City of Gretna to create a vision for their historic downtown.  Students Gavin West and Gustavo Rodas have worked closely with TRUDC on the project, and students of Grover Mouton's Design Urbanism course are also examining Gretna's design and planning challenges.  They will present their work to Gretna's Mayor and administration in mid-December. 


Nola.com Article 

New Wave Story 

TRUDC Partners with the West St. John Parish Community Action Panel

The Tulane Regional Urban Design Center (TRUDC) has begun work on a new project with the West St. John Parish Community Action Panel. The Center is applying its regional and interpretive planning expertise to the preservation of a cultural corridor along the west bank of the Mississippi River, preserving its significant historic architecture and promoting its impact on economic development through tourism. Given that the region represents a prime location for industrial development due to river, rail, highway, and pipeline access, the TRUDC will propose zoning amendments, setbacks, and design guidelines to ensure minimal impact on surrounding residential neighborhoods and historic sites. After using the summer months to gather community input and conduct preliminary analysis, the TRUDC will now collaborate with Parish officials and other planners to implement their recommendations.