The Dirty South - New Orleans

Masters Studio with Jennifer Bonner

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    Architectural Investigation of NOLA's "Terminally Unwonted" Monuments

    Stefann Plishka
    Jan 9, '15 1:32 PM EST

    “Live from New Orleans:

    Citizens awoke this morning to news of the radical dismemberment of the city’s controversial history. Twelve monuments rife with embedded complexity have been tagged and scheduled for excavation from their sites north of the Mississippi River and will be ferried south to Algiers Point, a place itself with an often overlooked history.

    Citizens will be able to engage these reappropriated and increasingly complex histories as the site is transformed into a new ferry terminal and museum of controversial monuments.

    The museum curator and design architects have provided a catalogue of the intended project: both historic and projective in nature. The city has documented the sequence of monumental movements, each monolith wrapped and concealed on its controversial transit across the Mississippi.

    Transit Shots


    Transit Shots

    Transit Shots


    These monuments range from traditional and figurative to unconventional landscapes. A few that will make their way south are:

    Battle of Liberty Place Obelisk: A monument once prominently located at the foot of Canal St but moved after years of protests and defacings, now tucked between a flood wall, municipal power plant, streetcar lines, and parking garages.

    I-10 Overpass Slice: A portion of the highway that cut through once-vibrant Treme and became a racial dividing line, now proposed for removal to restitch the urban fabric.

    Plaza Tower: An asbestos-ridden environmental hazard vacant since 2002, sold for $10mil redevelopment just months before Hurricane Katrina, now recently auctioned for $500k.

    Ignatius J Reilly Statue: Beloved character from the New Orleans classic novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, who interrupts the flow of traffic on busy Canal St sidewalk until Mardi Gras season when he is annually moved.

    Once at Algiers Point, these and other monuments are scattered vertically and wrapped with often-intersecting volumes, sometimes cavernous and sometimes compact. A complex, variable physical and visual procession in space lends to spatial disintegration that breaks up a clean, continuous narrative and singular experience of the monuments. The spatial awkwardness speaks to the particular convoluted histories of these monuments. Visitors are encouraged by the architecture to create their own new narratives and modes of experience.

    Process Drawings

    Transverse Slice A-A


    Sky Level Plan


    The building facades produce a similar effect - a screening moire that confuses, conceals, and distorts perception - except those facades towards the waterfront, from where a clear view into the building can only be seen from the ferry pulling into and out of the terminal. At times the monuments disobey and reveal themselves, peaking out to the city.

    Final Section Model


    Sets of twelve buttons will be sold at the gift shop, allowing visitors to remember each monument as its own narrative and together as a collection of controversy.

    Set of 12 Buttons


    We will all have to stay tuned to see if New Orleans can become an example of a southern city reappropriating its complex and still controversial history. We have a long way to go. It is the Dirty South, after all. Back to you in the studio.”


    Excerpts from "Terminally Unwonted"

    Stefann Plishka

    Masters of Architecture Candidate '15, LEED GA

    Georgia Institute of Technology

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About this Blog

The second installation of The Dirty South studio with Jennifer Bonner at Georgia Tech takes on New Orleans. Using the legacy of Dirty South hip hop as inspiration within the framework of a guidebook of B-side tours, students investigated unusual patterns and idiosyncrasies in the city. Projects spanned topics from misuse of Charles Moore's Piazza d'Italia to reappropriation of the city's most controversial monuments to installation of an illegal auction house within the convention center.

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