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Professors, students design New Orleans community center

Center to be located in Seventh Ward, feature resources for rebuilding



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Undergraduate architecture students work on a model of a community resource center for the Seventh Ward in New Orleans. This is a collaborative project with KU, Tulane University City Center and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans.

Two KU architecture professors are working with their design studio students to help design and build a prototype community resource center in New Orleans' Seventh Ward – to help people rebuild their homes, one house and one street at a time.

The collaborative three-phase project is being directed at KU by Nils Gore, associate professor, and Rob Corser, assistant professor. They are working with faculty at Tulane University City Center and with representatives of the Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans to raise about $270,000 to make the center a reality over three years.

The neighborhood center would be a place where New Orleans residents could find information, technical assistance and resources to rebuild their homes. The first phase is to design and construct a working center with a working space and a tool-lending library this spring. If funding is available, Gore, Corser and their students could go to New Orleans late this semester to help complete phase one.

"There are still a lot of unknowns, based on funding," Gore says. "If we get funding in place, and we build something, we'll go down near the end of the term. Anything we build will be pre-fabricated and shipped down as panels, then put back together down there. How long it takes will depend on how big it is and which of the several sites we're considering end up getting chosen. The people there will decide on that.

"We have several initiatives out for funding right now. But we will accept donations from anywhere." All donations are tax-deductible. Anyone wishing to donate should contact Gore at

The project timeline is based on an academic calendar, allowing KU students to participate in different years as the center progresses. Of the total costs, about $10,000 a year will be needed to fund materials and transportation for KU architecture student design and construction teams to travel to and from New Orleans.

Gore and Corser learned about the project when Tulane architecture faculty members visited KU last fall. In January, Gore and Corser traveled to New Orleans to meet with Seventh Ward and other officials as the project began. The Seventh Ward is regarded as the quintessential Creole neighborhood in New Orleans that has been home to many Creole craftsmen, skilled professionals and laborers.

In fall 2006, phase two would include providing space for a staff of skilled crafts professionals to advise residents and help locate resources.

In fall 2007, a third phase would further expand the educational effort by setting up classes, training sessions and resources to assist with neighborhood initiatives.

More information about the project and the Seventh Ward is available online at the Lawrence Journal World.