16 November 2006

Uhhhh . . . Old Jefferson Libeskind-ed


Did anyone else fall out of their chair when they saw this rendering on the front page of today's Times-Picayune? This conceptual drawing is the current proposal for the re-development of the underutilized and out-dated Jefferson Plaza Shopping Center site in Old Jefferson. For years I've thought this site bound by Labarre Road, Causeway, River Road, and Jefferson Highway was among the most desirable for re-development and among the most squandered in the New Orleans area. I always envisioned a mixed-use development with commercial/retail likely including a modern grocery on the ground level along with residential ontop--maybe including a mid-level residential component or two (like maybe 10 stories or so).

Architect Daniel Libeskind's above design was not what I had in mind--and I am not completely against multiple floored residential buildings at this site unlike many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Libeskind, of course, is the guy who designed the most lamely named Freedom Tower--at the World Trade Center site in New York City. (The Freedom Tower is going to be 1,776 feet tall because that's the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Get it? In third year design if a student in my class would have said such a thing they would have been laughed at. In the bizarro world we live in, this thing at 1,776 feet is getting built.)

Going to be interesting to see how this all pans out. The pre-construction fences went up on part of this site nearly six months ago. According to Old Jefferson resident Hollis P. Wood the Frostop on the site was told they'd have to soon relocate at that time. The Daquairi place and pawn shop formerly on the site burned down to the ground in immediate post-KTMB days. Its amazed me that a galvenized effort opposing this re-development (granted that this is the first time a rendering has been made public to my knowledge) hasn't already been underway. I would think its about to kick into high gear and I've noticed "No Skyscrapers" signs beginning to appear along River Road in the the adjacent neighborhoods. I have a feeling parish government is going to let this project happen . . . .

19 NOVEMBER 2006 UPDATE: On Thursday, this project passed another hurdle towards becoming a reality as a request by the developer to merge several individual lots to form one large lot was endorsed by the Parish Planning Advisory Board.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Old Jefferson, Libeskind, Jefferson Parish

12 Comments:

At November 17, 2006 7:33 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

It never works when New Orleans tries to be Houston, and the powers-that-be in Jefferson Parish want to be Houston.

I don't want to be backward old New Orleans. But I don't want to be Houston, either.

 
At November 17, 2006 9:24 AM, Blogger John Blutarsky said...

But Houston is sooo nice with their Applebees and Targets and plethora of "mexican" chain restaurants. Don't forget Whataburger too!

 
At November 17, 2006 10:11 AM, Anonymous ashley said...

I always like the "sidewalks to nowhere" that they put in the artist renderings. This is just sad, really.

Who will live in these? People for whom Metairie is just too rural?

 
At November 17, 2006 10:14 AM, Anonymous ashley said...

My wife's first words when she saw the artist rendering: "He's never been here before, has he?"

 
At November 17, 2006 10:30 AM, Anonymous Varg said...

One of the premier architects in the world wants to come to the area and erect a one-of-a-kind building in an area that was underutilized and bleak and, of course, they face opposition. I've never been a fan of over development, but have always chosen development over failed structures and underutilized run-down areas.

New Orleans isn't going to be Houston no matter what. Speculation as to that effect is preposterous. One building isn't going to usher in the Houstification of our city. Even ten skyscrapers wouldn't. Because Houston has industry and manufacturing, Fortune 500 companies and a growing and viable population. But it's ugly. Think San Francisco. It developed and kept its style and character as well.

I take it the people in the neighborhood want the area to become something, just not THAT. One of the comments of the article was the "scale." Another was calling the buildings "monstrosities." well, they are that bad. I think they ar every nice. In any given architecure or design choice, there is always someone who hates it. And since it's subjective its hard to prove it one way or the next.

Here's to hoping the two groups can come to some conclusion where both parties win. I know MY neighborhood could use an enhanced tax base, jobs created and sorely needed housing for senior citizens. Hell, all of New Orleans could use that.

 
At November 17, 2006 11:58 AM, Blogger jeffrey said...

I want to be backward old New Orleans. I can't make it in America.

 
At November 17, 2006 12:34 PM, Anonymous varg said...

Backward old New Orleans has bad levees, terrible schools and a crooked justice system.

 
At November 17, 2006 2:08 PM, Anonymous Sean Robertson said...

Pretty typical Liebeskind - his work almost always seems very chaotic, as if he's trying to create a sense of what the disaster itself is like rather than symbolizing the hope and rebirth following such disasters. I think he is a terrible choice for these kinds of buildings because of that. This particular one even looks like it's got windows blown out. It worked for the Holocaust museum he designed but something like that on this scale is just not cool.

 
At November 17, 2006 2:23 PM, Blogger Hollis P. Wood said...

Has he even visited the site and the surrounding areas?

Sure don't look like it.

 
At November 17, 2006 11:03 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

I read about this a few weeks ago and wondered why no one had mentioned it. If you ride around there you will see there is a high volume of traffic from River Road to Causeway, cutting through the Neighborhood down Maine Street.

If they rerouted the traffic to Causeway that area may benefit, as far as the beauty of the buildings..that is another issue

 
At November 19, 2006 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Orleans tried to be Houston with the Superdome. That seemed to work out so well that millions were spent to fix it before half of everything else (well, that and it brings in money and jobs, but never mind).

 
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