A celebration of place

One might think that a conference like the 2016 ASLA Meeting & EXPO gets boring with time – but not in “The Big Easy“. The reason for this is certainly the city itself: Most difficult to classify because of its great diversity in architecture, public spaces, people and music, New Orleans is full of surprises. The ASLA program reacts to this. In the context of current developments, the schedule discusses challenges on site as well as in the general field of landscape architecture. So even on the third day, there is still a lot to discover.

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Parallel to the 2016 ASLA Meeting the Krewe of Boo, the official Halloween Parade of New Orleans took place. Photo: Theresa Ramisch

“A celebration of place“ – this is the theme of this year’s ASLA Meeting in New Orleans. According to some attendees’ descriptions, the name not only speaks for itself. It speaks for the whole city – its history, its development.
The“Krewe of Boo“ is the official Halloween Parade in New Orleans, which typically takes place on the Saturday evening before Halloween. While turning the Vieux Carre (French Quarter) into the“Boo Carre“, the parade progresses through the French Quarter all the way up to the Convention Center. With camp chairs in their hands, the people of New Orleans come early to secure top spots to watch the parade of ghost on horses, dancing witches and indescribable scary characters. While the parade progresses and throws necklaces and sweets into the crowd, the people in the streets shout, laugh, sing and dance.
Even though the parade is no official part of the 2016 ASLA conference, considered altogether, there is a very important learning value: This city, kind of broken after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was not only backed up again by the government or the community – it was mainly backed up by the people of New Orleans.

Mirabeau Water Garden

The project Mirabeau Water Garden in the north of New Orleans is a very good example for the civil involvement after Katrina. It was presented on the third day of 2016 ASLA Bry Sarte, David Waggonner and Shannon Blakeman. Before the hurricane, 25 acres in the neighborhood of Gentilly were the home of the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Because of the low sea level on site, the place was nearly completely destroyed in 2005. To morph the fallow land into a water mitigation pilot, a community park and educational outlet, the community of 500 religious women donated it to the city of New Orleans in January 2016. Like this the $25 million project became part of the “Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan“ and will be funded partially by the municipality. Detailed report to be followed.