The High Life
Hurricane Katrina, August 23rd 2005
The Hoffman Triangle, New Orleans

FEMA regulation state:
“If the cost to repair your flood-damaged home is less than 50 percent of the property’s market value, you can repair or rebuild it at the current elevation.” and "If the cost to repair your flood-damaged home is 50 percent or more of the property’s market value, you must either raise it or tear it down and rebuild at the elevation level currently required for new construction in your neighborhood.”

In the Hoffman Triangle this happens to be 2 feet above sea level, requiring houses to be elevated an average distance of 6 feet.

FEMA’s regulations leave those who can not afford to rebuild or raise their homes still at risk; it perpetuates the presence of many vacant lots and abandoned buildings; and it exacerbates the failing infrastructure and diminishes site access. A landscape architectural intervention which calls for the reorganization of the ground plane can address each one of these issues. Residents of the Hoffman Triangle are temporarily relocated while specific blocks are raised. Once the work is done the residents return to familiar settings, just a bit higher up and much safer. The remaining lands are excavated to provide the materials to accommodate the lifting process, and very importantly, the excavated areas serve as water storage basins - taking pressure off New Orleans' water management infrastructure and increasing the safety of all the cities residents.

Apart from ensuring for the safety of all the residents of the Hoffman Triangle, the new land form also serves as a public amenity.  It provides places for urban growth and intensification, allocates land for passive recreational use, integrates spaces for civic interaction and can even provide economic possibilities and food security through the growth and care for aquaculture from the water storage basins. Even during Katrina sized storm events the raised landform keeps the citizens of the Hoffman Triangle safe - and provides a safe spot for their neighbors.