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Bullish on the Big Easy

Oct 3 issue
Of course we'll rebuild New Orleans. But doing it right will take both art and science.

Whatever the guiding principle turns out to be, the country's top minds agree that a strong, coherent reconstruction plan at the outset is essential to the city's rebirth. But just how creative are we willing to get in our planning? Bill McDonough, one of the nation's most prominent architects and a world-recognized expert in environmentally sustainable design, has been doing a lot of thinking about the city's reconstruction, which he calls "Jeffersonian" in scope. The cleanup and environmental issues alone, he points out, will be immense. McDonough has some surprising solutions in mind. "All the areas that are dead should be allowed to die," he says. "We don't want to bring children back to where it's dangerous. We can use a process called phytoremediation, which uses plants like mustard or indigenous species to decontaminate instead of burying soil and burning."
Indeed, McDonough sees an opportunity for New Orleans to serve as kind of testing ground for the potential of environmentally sound planning. "We need to turn hard to soft and gray to green," he says. "That means as often as possible we need to mandate that paving be porous and make parking lots like giant sponges that slow runoff. And what we don't need paved—and you'd be amazed at how much doesn't need to be paved—we need to turn back to earth." As for planning and housing, McDonough says the city should turn low-lying areas into lakes and create habitats for ducks that would be a "celebration of species" as well as great hunting grounds. At the same time, he says, "We could build and inhabit mounds—create high ground."

www.fortune.com/fortune/streetlife/0,15704,1105679-2,00.html

Sustaining Development Community Centre
 


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