Building Arts Institute

New Orleans, Louisiana



Traditional building methods played a huge role in the development of culture and community in New Orleans. Neighborhoods were built by their residents, bartering skills and expertise, building homes from the ground up. Construction trade dominated and many young men were raised as apprentices by family members or neighbors who taught them essential skills of building in South Louisiana. Today, this culture no longer exists. Neighborhoods are becoming more fragmented and fraught with crime. While the lack of building culture is neither an isolated issue nor the only element contributing to New Orleans’ problems, its decline certainly led to a loss of “community” in many neighborhoods. 

This project creates a locus within the St. Roch neighborhood where residents, young and old, can gather to learn and practice traditional building methods as well as explore contemporary technology and practice. In contemporary construction, masonry exists only as a facade or applied condition. To explore more deeply the stigma against “applied” elements, my project clearly delineates the distinction between VOLUME and SKIN, allowing these two elements to establish a dialogue, rather than hide, one another. The project encourages the student to reconsider the place of traditional building methods within our contemporary world, and how they could personally work toward reshaping the future of their community and its architecture. 

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