23 October 2008

Katrina Memorial in the Lower Ninth Ward

Some memorials rely on the fanciest and most expensive materials to show the seriousness of their intent. This memorial may have succeeded in using cheaper pavers in a way that achieved just that - something more elegant would have looked like a well-funded token, while this looks a bit more like a less well-funded work of heart. It obviously has a lot more polish than the makeshift memorials that popped up after the storm. It is designed by David Lee, FAIA and sits right at the bottom of the bridge as you enter the Lower Ninth Ward.



I read somewhere that the blue columns represented the different levels of water during the storm.
Since it is situated in the middle of a street, it is more of a piece on a pedastal than a place to visit and contemplate. But since it is still surrounded by one of the most devastated urban places in the US, there are plenty of other places nearby to dwell on the negative. This colorful offering tries to do something different than some other memorials.


This stone, which looks a lot like a cemetery headstone, seemed a little out of place. But it also quickly turned a colorful plaza into a serious space.
What do you think? Does it strike you as having the impact of a Vietnam Memorial or a WWII? Should it? What is being memorialized here?

9 comments:

Chris said...

Not every event warrants a memorial. The design commission and construction funding have could be better spent repairing the levees. The memorial does, however, provide a nice seat to use while waiting for the bus.

Puk said...

No, not every event warrants a memorial. But, I think this one does. People are too forgetful or are too easily led to forget. This is a perfect opportunity to seize the past as prologue. It is not only a reminder of our shameful response to this disaster, but a spotlight on "at-risk" populations across the country.

I really like the design, but can absolutely do without the headstone.

David Tulloch said...

The thing that I struggled with is that - with or without a memorial - there is no way to stand on that particular street and not be painfully reminded of what happened. Look at the photos from last week. So what does it contribute? Is it healing? It may be. Is it a central point for gathering when the community needs to remember collectively? Yes. Does it symbolize hope? Those are questions that help determine whether or not it is an appropriate investment.

Chris said...

"It is not only a reminder of our shameful response to this disaster, but a spotlight on 'at-risk' populations across the country."

"Our shameful response?" Our nation's law enforcement and military personnel put themselves in harms way daily and these storms were no exception. What is shameful is that citizens belittle the sacrifices made by fellow citizens who answer the call to serve.

What is an "at-risk" population? Many people are "at-risk" of getting their basements flooded.

Puk said...

"At-risk" populations are people who are politically unimportant enough to live in places where little or no investment is made in infrastructure. You know... the little things... like levees.

I feel that some years from now, perhaps after the Depression, that same viewshed will be rebuilt and quite possibly exclusive. And hence, a reminder, if only one that you pass on your daily commute, is appropriate.

Chris said...

Areas within the floodplain should not be developed. Re-building levees to protect non-critical infrastructure is bad public policy.

Joe said...

The headstone is totally out of place. Perhaps it was added to try to make this a memorial. The place as a whole seems to me like more of a call-to-action to rebuild and a symbol of pride.

BTW, Spike Lee's movie, "When the Levees Broke" will be showing at 8pm at the RSC tonight.

JLCHARLAND said...

are you kidding me? you say this money could be spent better? this monument probably only cost a couple of thousand dollars max, to do anything with those levee's would cost millions upon millions of dollars.As for the people questioning the contributions of it, or if it symbolized hope, then you have never been to this memorial, there are five or six poles lined up each consecutively getting high, which symbolize NO's rise out of the situation they are in.

and also bureaucracy has no place in situations like this, they should have let the regular civilians that were there attempting to help, HELP!

zeraph said...

This was a surprisingly expensive memorial, from what I have heard, because it was constructed with incredible haste to prepare for G.W. Bush's visit to New Orleans. I am not sure that he even saw this memorial, which has little meaning to the neighborhood. The only folks I have seen interacting with the space have been tourists.