Contrasts in Construction
I found this example of two starkly contrasting blocks of old and new construction located uptown at the intersection of Annunciation and Amelia.
Standing in the intersection, in immediate proximity of these contrasting styles, I found that they illustrate quite well criteria numbers three, four and six of the ordinance governing the NCDC (Neighborhood Conservation District Committee), on which I currently serve. We are obligated to consider all of these criteria collectively as we contemplate the impact of proposed demolitions on a case-by-case basis.
The main factors we consider under the new ordinance are:
1) Current Condition fo the structure.
2) Architectural Signifigance of the structure.
3) Historical Signifigance of the subject structure.
4) Urban Design Signifigance as it relates to the pedestrian perception and movement and the height, area and bulk of the structure and how it relates to the street scene traffic.
5) Neighborhood context of the structure.
6) Overall effect on the blockface.
7) Proposed time/length the subject site is anticipated to remain undeveloped.
8) Proposed plan for redevelopment.
9) Stated position of adjacent neighbors, neighborhood associations or other interested individuals or organizations, either in writing(email).
This block, with the traditional setback, is the type of architecture built by craftsmen and materials which are no longer available except through salvage shops and are a big attraction tourists who come from places where this style of architecture doesn’t exist. Along with our lovely oak trees, it is part of what makes our citys’ streets unique.
It is also worth considering the interior characteristics of the older shotguns which are often taken for granted in the traditional shotgun’s interior. Fireplaces, high ceilings, large floor-to-ceiling windows, including dormers as well as the old oak flooring, and often, plaster walls, all of which make New Orleans School homes more valuable and desirable. This compared with small, vinyl windows, low ceilings, cheap sheetrock and cheap parquet floors, plastic showers and non-descript home depot doors. At least the new construction on this block included porches.
Which block is more inviting/compelling to walk down? Which block offers the most compelling backdrop in which to carry on with the drudgery of life’s daily activities?
While I know the importance of affordable housing, we also need to be careful where we put it. Imagine this old blockface with one of these new modular styles stuck smack in the middle of it.
As a member of the NCDC, I am often dumbfounded by the applicants who apply for demolition who have one of these old homes with superior construction and declare ignorantly to us that the property is not historical in their plea to demolish it and replace it with cheap alternatives, usually after years of their own neglect.