Yesterday Mayor Nagin and Strategic Hotels, the corporation that owns the Hyatt, announced plans for a major overhaul of a large chunk of Downtown. Many old and/or damaged buildings will be demolished including City Hall and the New Orleans Centre to make way for a new Jazz Park/Center, a new civic courthouse and new municipal buildings among other structures. City Hall will be relocated to the renovated Dominion Towers.
I applaud Strategic Hotels for their initiative here. I think that partnerships like this one, between government and private corporations, neighborhoods or non-profits are the only way anything will actually get accomplished down here.
The result will be a swath of green space leading from Tulane Avenue to the sports complexes of the Superdome and New Orleans Arena surrounded by modern buildings designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Thom Mayne in association with local architect Ray Manning. Developers on a panel convened by Hyatt and working with other stakeholders from New Orleans envision an internationally known destination for the arts and tourism that will be used day and night.
The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra would be based there, which would also be a destination for national touring jazz acts. Ron Markham, president of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, said the site, near the birthplace of Louis Armstrong, would be branded as the international home for jazz. Wynton Marsalis led the design of the $120 million National Jazz Center.
I'm really interested to see the Thom Mayne building(s) in detail. Here's a sample of his work from the NYT after he won the Pritzker.
Here's the proposed map:
Finally something to be excited about!