17 April 2011

But We'll Always Have Café du Monde

Via New Orleans, the Hypothetical Development Organization has some tongue-in-cheek proposals for revitalizing derelict parts of the Crescent City...

The Hypothetical Development Organization, founded in 2010, is dedicated to the recognition and extension of a new form of urban storytelling.

Members of this organization begin the narrative process by examining city neighborhoods and commercial districts for compelling structures that appear to have fallen into disuse —“hidden gems” of the built environment. In varying states of repair, these buildings suggest only stories about the past, not the future.

As a public service, H.D.O. invents a hypothetical future for each selected structure. Unlike a traditional, reality-based developer, however, our organization is not bound by rules relating to commercial potential, practical materials, or physics. In our view, plausibility is a creative dead end. That is to say: We are not trying to fool anybody.

Some of their suggestions include The Museum of the Self, the Tin Can Telephone Company, a Loitering Centre, the Treme Authenticity Monument, Snooze Towers, and a Rubble Depot. Then there's the semi-brutalist Radtke Reading Room and Archive, whose local significance is explained thusly:

New Orleans anti-graffiti zealot Fred Radtke is (in)famous for paint-rolling gray splotches over street art, and if you spend any time in New Orleans you will see his work everywhere. Even Banksy has referenced him. (And Radkte himself has been arrested at least once — for obliterating a legal mural). On some level Radkte’s splotches are his de facto “tag.” Indeed, one could argue that he is the all-out king of New Orleans; he’s tagged up the entire parish. In tribute, this building could serve as the new center of his operations. It is time to recognize Radkte’s role as a citywide bomber: When he goes up over your tag, he really goes up over your tag. Respect.

New Orleans, however, operates by its own indigenous and anomalous logic. And for that reason I'm guessing that this project is (hopefully) deploying lots of locals-only irony; because there's too many reasons why this variety of yuppie "new urbanist" versioning is so wildly un-germane to the social fabric of the city -- not only in terms of its architecture, but also its general population and character. But hey, when you're faced with being colonized by yet another Trump Tower, I guess it's all relative.

Oddly, I see no suggestions for what to do with the Six Flags that's been sitting empty since Katrina...

More information at the HDO website, and via this article at Design Observer.

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