River to Bayou: Restoration and Resilience – The Central Wetland Unit and the Lower 9th Ward

Project Goals:

A team of architecture, landscape architecture, coastal ecology, economics, and engineering faculty and students designed new strategies for the Lower 9th Ward’s future. The project also engaged in community outreach by partnering with the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Design (CSED).

Project Team:
    • Jeff Carney Former Director, Coastal Sustainability Studio
    • Jori Erdman, AIA, LEED AP
    • Natalie Yates
    • Robert Twilley, PhD Chairman of the Board & Interim CSS Executive Director
      Executive Director, Louisiana Sea Grant
      Professor, LSU College of the Coast & Environment
    • Clint Willson, PhD, PE Mike N. Dooley, P.E. Professor, College of Engineering
      Director, LSU Center for River Studies
    • Ursula Emery McClure Professor of Architecture
    • Elizabeth Mossop
    • Bradley Cantrell
    • Jason Bordelon
    • Marcelle Boudreaux
    • Devon Boutte
    • Louise Cheetham
    • Tom Grubbs
    • Josef Hoffman
    • Mary Martinich
    • Jacques Metevier
    • Matt Moerschbaecher

Hurricane Katrina’s disproportionate toll on the Lower 9th Ward was directly related to the preexisting environmental degradation of the natural environment surrounding New Orleans.

The cypress forest that once protected the city from storm surges was extensive, encompassing 30,000 acres. Since the construction of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the entire forest has died and turned to open water. The design for this project is driven by the concept of a robust wetland zone that supports a resilient natural environment alongside sustained human settlement.

Direct + Broader Impacts:
The research conducted for River to Bayou contributed to the research on the equity aspects of sustainability, addressing ways to include and enhance the voices and visions of neighborhood residents, and other professions and disciplines that inform sound planning and design polices. The project also offered new methods for partnerships between academic institutions and community institutions, to enhance location-based research.