Irvin Mayfield's Blog

Week Seven: Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA

by IrvinMayfield on Oct.07, 2010, under Weekly Guests

Dean, Professor of Architecture, Tulane School of Architecture

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Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA came to Tulane University from the University of Virginia where he was a professor of architecture, former department chair and associate dean, and chair of the Faculty Senate. He has over twenty-seven years of teaching and practice experience in architecture, preservation, urban design and community planning. As a founding principal of CP+D (Community Planning + Design) and Schwartz-Kinnard, Architects, he has won four national design competitions exploring the constructive force that progressive urbanism and architecture can play in rebuilding cities. In addition to his design work, Mr. Schwartz has served as a planning commissioner and member of the Board of Architectural Review for the City of Charlottesville, focusing on design and preservation issues in the community. Mr. Schwartz served on the University of Virginia Master Planning Committee and the Art and Architecture Review Board for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a Past President of the National Architecture Accrediting Board and recent board member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Schwartz was awarded UVA’s Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award, the university’s highest teaching honor given to one faculty member each year. Mr. Schwartz is pleased to be continuing his work as an educator, architect, and engaged citizen at the Tulane School of Architecture.


22 Comments for this entry

  • MarkP
    MarkP

    I learned a lot of information on a field of study in which I had limited knowledge this week. It was interesting to hear from someone out of town who is dedicated to the engineering and architectural work of New Orleans. It was also interesting to see how engaging architecture as a discipline must be with other fields of civic life, such as, government, communities and art.

    Mr. Ken Schwartz is the Dean of the Tulane School of Architecture. He moved here from Virginia in 2008 and is dedicated to rebuilding New Orleans, literally and figuratively. As an architect himself, he has many personal and deep beliefs about architecture. He says it can often be a “social or political art”.
    Mr. Schwartz says “the architect needs to understand his or her own society”.

    He cites Thomas Jefferson as an inspiration who himself was the most proud of being a writer of the Declaration of Independence and an as architect and founder of the University of Virginia- which was the first public university in the United States (an example of knowing one’s society after breaking ties with British rule).

    Mr. Schwartz explained to us how architecture is really an engaging discipline which must work with other segments of society to work.

    The architect must design buildings to other people’s specifications at times and, at other times, design them whichever way he/she wants. Functionality and aesthetics must be considered too. Contractors usually build this building. Often times, the building itself must clear government regulations, as well as, community expectations, so there is a lot that goes into makes a project become a reality.

    I was very interested to see the URBANbuild project homes that the Tulane School of Architecture in collaboration with non-profit organizations have made. These homes used old designs, such as, shotgun houses and Creole cottages and put a contemporary twist on them. It was interesting to hear about how they left the porches on these homes so that the Southern tradition of having people neighbors over to just talk would remain. He believes his students are there to get involved with the community and hear their concerns. I also enjoyed hearing about the urban farming in New Orleans East and other things that he’s been involved in.

    I was also happy to hear him talk about Cornerstones-a project that I was familiar with through anthropologist Rachel Breunlin’s Neighborhood Story Project – which is a project which is trying to capture all unique history of New Orleans’ neighborhoods, as well as, their “institutions”. He said this is making “architecture as a social tool” so people will remember these unique places and people.

    All in all, Mr. Schwartz was a very interesting guest. I think he showed most of our students that there is a lot more to architecture than meets the eye. He was very intelligent and able to answer our questions well.

  • EmilyH
    EmilyH

    Dean Schwartz is a very intelligent and caring man. Although he had no obligation to New Orleans, he moved here after the city was devastated to help rebuild it and continues to work with charities to help fallen communities and homeowners. Instead of being an architect that designs things like flagship buildings for corporations or mansions for an exclusive gated community, he uses his skills for public spaces and in down-trodden neighborhoods where he can make a difference in people’s lives. Also, his take on the public college system shows how caring he is. He said that the state of public higher education being whittled down by massive budget cuts worries him. He is concerned about the workforce and blue collars because that’s who is driving industry and business, and therefore economy. He wants to help the lower and middle class because that is the majority and lifeblood of the citizens of the city, state, and country. He knows their value.

    This may be controversial, but I think that he is like the opposite of Carl Conner. Where Carl is reluctant to answer “anecdotal questions,” defensive, and working at least halfway for the interest of a big corporation, Dean Schwartz is concerned for the low-income families and neighborhoods and will work for them before a big business. He was open to all of our questions, answered them fully, and even gave out information about who to talk to for things he honestly didn’t know about. I believe that he could work for any school, public or private, and do just as much good for others. He makes you want to go out and help as much as you can.

  • StevenC
    StevenC

    I thought our class this week was by far the most interesting and informative so far. I think the architecture program over at Tulane sounds really interesting. I think it’s good that Tulane is working to help the local community through their Urban Build projects.

    The most important thing I took away from class Wednesday was the idea of finding balance in architecture. I think the Urban Build houses that Tulane have built so far did a good job of incorporating modern building materials and design into the constructions, while also incorporating traditional New Orleans design ideas such as shotgun and camel back structures with open porches. It seems like often times I will meet people/artists working in various creative arts fields that will either be all about maintaining the tradition in a strict way, or be all about innovating and deviating from tradition. In my opinion the best artists have an understanding that both are important and that striking a balance between the two is essential. I think music has many parallels with architecture. While architecture revolves around using physical materials and geometry to construct buildings and houses, music uses timing and intervals to build songs. Music is full of tension and resolution, and like architecture, I think it is important to find balance between the two in order to make it accessible and appealing to the majority of people.

    I think it will be interesting to see how Tulane’s architecture program continues to evolve and how its growth will benefit the local community.

  • KristenZ
    KristenZ

    “It is a question of building which is at the root of the social unrest of today: architecture or revolution.” – Le Corbusier
    This quote, made by one of my personal favorite architects and designers, came to mind when Kenneth Schwartz spoke to us about the different levels of society that architecture affects. Although Le Corbusier’s ideas on urbanism, and the machine like structure of mass housing in Paris are not ones that I hold, it highlighted the design problem of growing cities. Mr. Schwartz’s history as a citizen activist, his involvement with government planning commissions, role in historical preservation, and the importance of civic engagement makes his involvement with the City of New Orleans invaluable.
    The statement made, that architecture is a social and political art, is not something that you usually associate with the field. Mr. Schwartz, by using his example of Thomas Jefferson, showed us that design problems which architects can apply their skill, are not just with brick and mortar. Jefferson applied the architects’ mind to broad ideas of culture, politics, and social issues when looking at the way to design our newborn government. This re-enforces that architects, such as Mr. Schwartz, can have a large social impact on the cities and communities around us. I think the community outreach programs that Tulane and Mr. Schwartz are continuing to implement is only going to further the spirit of the city.
    Although the initial planning of New Orleans from a technical standpoint has serious flaws, I feel that the architecture and design of the city is magical in many ways. You can move thorough the city with relative ease without an automobile, and be awed all the while you do it. When you slow down and take time to walk around the city, you can be amazed at the hidden gems you find, even if you walk past it everyday. I have walked the same route to work for 6 years, and yet I still can discover something new each time. I also feel that the people who live here are inspired by the character of the houses they live in, whether it’s subconscious or not, and that adds to these little shadow boxes of art that is New Orleans.
    I think it is wonderful that Mr. Schwartz can see the beauty of the city, and yet understands the technical issues, like MRGO, that need to be addressed immediately. The balance of art, practicality, and mathematics of a cities design is something that I personally feel can be accomplished, and I feel that Tulane and Mr. Schwartz understand this balance.
    I would like to know Mr. Schwartz’s thought a bit more on the battle between design as art and functionality. My personal aesthetic is one that loves art deco and mid-century design (Knoll, Eames, etc). I miss that simple things such as blenders, television sets, record players, cars, chairs, etc were built not only to last but also to be creations of art. The use of stainless steel, aluminum, and glass are materials that are beautiful to me. However, as we become a more environmentally and production cost conscious society, this is not always practical. I personally feel that we have become a more disposable society with the use of plastic and synthetic materials, which makes things affordable but may sacrifice art and durability. In short, is having to replace cheaper materials more often outweigh the cost of using more durable materials that may not be as energy efficient?
    I thank Kenneth Schwartz for taking the time to speak to us.

  • NicholasM
    NicholasM

    This week our guest was Kenneth Schwartz, the dean of the school of architecture for Tulane for the past two years. I was really impressed by how interesting I found this question and answer session. Mr. Schwartz has obviously done this before because he came well prepared and had many things to tell us and show us with his power point presentation.

    Mr. Schwartz started off by discussing a few of the many projects involved with the Tulane City Center (TCC). The TCC houses the School of Architectures community outreach programs. One such project was made possible with a $1 million (I believe that is the right number) grant the TCC just recently received. The money will be given out over the next 10 years in $100,000 increments. The $100,000 will be put toward one architecture project a year. This is really great for the city. The first project Mr. Schwartz mentioned they were going to do was work with the Mardi Gras Indians with the “Guardian of the Flame Project”. This seems like a really good project for the city in protecting the history of the Mardi Gras Indians. I hope this project comes out well and I hope the rest of the projects dealing with this grant come out well.

    Another project Mr. Schwartz discussed was the Urban Build House that the students and faculty at Tulane have been involved in. The Urban Build House involves the students getting hands on work in architecture by picking a site in New Orleans to design and build a house for someone. This project is also putting Tulane into neighborhoods and showing that they are invested in the cities. The students spend weeks in the different neighborhoods not just building but also getting to know the people there. I think this is a really cool project. Most of the houses have been in Central City but they have been branching out to Treme. One of the biggest problems Mr. Schwartz mentioned they are having with these homes is that they are not traditional New Orleans shotguns or the shotgun variation, camel back. I can see the problem with the complaints. The neighborhoods want to keep the traditions going but I really enjoy the designs they students and faculty at Tulane are using for these homes. It isn’t the traditional style but it is a really cool modern variation of what a shotgun is. It did not sound like they are getting that many complaints because they good of these houses probably outweighs they bad. They are putting people back in homes. I also really like that they are using different building materials. They are using this to try to be more efficient. One thing I am kind of curious about is how they pick the sites? I know Mr. Schwartz said they are trying to stay in Cenral City but not exclusively there.

    This question and answer session was extremely enjoyable and informative. I had never heard of the Hollygrove farmers market that the school built before this week. Now I need to go check it out. I am looking forward to the other projects that the school is going to be involved with and I hope they continue to do more good work within the city.

  • EmilyH
    EmilyH

    I think many people brought up a good point about the unique architecture of New Orleans and how the project houses built by Tulane’s School of Architecture incorporated that into the designs. While I was at Gretna Fest, walking back to the car, my father pointed out a camelback house to me. He has lived in New Orleans all his life and has taught me everything I know about the city. The lesson of that day was the traditional camelback house and how it isn’t around as much anymore, yet the shotgun is still very prolific. When Dean Schwartz showed us the project house based on a camelback house, I knew exactly what he was talking about. It’s great that the Dean is so interested in helping poorer communities in New Orleans, and it’s even better that he wants to pull in traditional elements of New Orleans to help endear citizens to their works. I think the houses are great. What I like about the houses is that they are different. I enjoy seeing houses of different colors and styles next to each other. I hate when houses look exactly the same and are the same beige color. If the house is kept up and not overgrown with weeds with trash in the yard, it can be whatever crazy color they want.

  • KyleM
    KyleM

    One thing that really struck me in the interview with Kenneth Schwartz was his passion and enthusiasm. He seemed to relish problem solving in every aspect of society. Having served on community and city planning commissions and now being Dean of Architecture at Tulane, Mr. Schwartz really gave the impression of a deep knowledge and understanding of all elements of the discussion. Starting out with a slideshow in order to help us make informed inquires into his work really made an impression on me. Not only does he care about his field, but he peaked my interest and made me care more.

    In America, in my experience, it is rare to hear of architecture spoken of as a high art. People pass buildings and homes countless times a day without an ounce of thought as to the work and planning that goes into every detail. We only think to complain when design conflicts with our desires. As Mr. Schwartz said, Americans are no longer taught about famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, or William F. Lamb. This is only a small example of the shortcomings of the path of our current educational system.

    In class I asked Mr. Schwartz about the seemingly dwindling number of landmark buildings being built in the U.S. today in comparison to that of Europe. He and Irvin responded by discussing how property rights have basically benefited the individual in the short-term scenarios but over the long haul the mass populous has dug itself a hole. We are all about functionality and we are cheap. Frugality is one thing but being cheap is a whole other ball game. We have become greedy and lazy and it is taking a toll on every aspect of our society.

    Through our laziness we have lost our innovative edge. We are currently building what will be the tallest building in the US and it is already nearly 1,000ft shorter than the tallest building in the world. But get this, it was designed by Americans. In one sense this can be seen as positive because everyone seems to want the skills our citizens possess but at the same time, if we continue to export our every asset to foreign countries and cease continued innovation here at home we will lose the little national standing we have left.

    Today we have nothing motivating us; it seems that nowadays we are only spurred on by crisis control. What happened to good old-fashioned competition? In the sixties, one of the United States’ finer times, we had sputnik and the Soviet Union to contend with. Mr. Schwartz commented, “The sputnik event caused this country to recognize that we had to invest in research and in education and if we didn’t do that we would become a second tier country relative to that of our foe in the cold war, the Soviet Union. And the success of our response to that challenge was phenomenal and it played out in terms of the moon shot, in terms of semi conductor industries, in terms of medical research, and revolutions in health care. We found ourselves in a situation where we were threatened by the possibility of the Soviet Union accelerating beyond us in terms of their capabilities in science and Engineering. All of that is traceable to public investment in the education of young women and men. Period.”

    We saw a pending problem and we responded in a proactive manner. We took the bull by the horns and put it in its place. Today it seems we are nearsighted and we are only reacting (slowly) to present problems while letting more build up for the future.

    As Irvin implied, we need to broaden our learning base and study as Leonardo da Vinci did, wide and deep. We need to learn about architecture, we need to learn about the sciences, we need to know mathematics, and we need to use these skills every day to benefit our communities.

    John Adams once said, “It should be your care, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.”

    America was once the world of tomorrow. We had the tallest buildings, the most advanced schools, and the most innovative progressive ideas. Now is the time to reverse our downward spiral and shoot for the stars.

    Thank you Mr. Schwartz for passing on your passion and knowledge and elevating my mind.

  • ElizabethP
    ElizabethP

    This week’s guest, Kenneth Schwartz FAIA, the Dean of Architecture at Tulane University, was a very informative and interesting guest. He came equipped with an amazing presentation of some of the things that the School of Architecture has been doing in the community, and projects that they are participating in as well. He told us about his background, which included both academia and public policy positions in Charlottesville, VA, including his previous position at UVA, and his posts with the city planning commission and other citizen review boards. He said he was concerned with how he could use his skills to “give back” to the community around him. He also talked about the positions he has undertaken here in New Orleans, including his relationship with the new Mayor and the HDLC. He had a very interesting reason for coming to New Orleans. He said he was very curious how government agencies, community groups, private sector organizations and community activists would work together to respond to the disaster that was Katrina, and also what new opportunities would emerge as a result of that disaster. He said he arrived in New Orleans, at a private University that had fundamentally changed its structure as a result of the storm, and the changing needs of this community.

    I found his description of architecture quite interesting. He said to him, architecture is a social art, and a political art. He said one of his heroes was Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia. He told us that Jefferson, who designed his own tombstone, listed three accomplishments on it. One was that he was author of the Declaration of Independence. One was that he was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedoms (a precursor to the separation of church and state), and the third was Founder of the University of Virginia. I, too, was impressed, like Dean Schwartz, that of all the accolades Jefferson could have chosen to leave for all to remember him by, he believed the creation of a public university to be more permanently meaningful than being President or Vice President of the United States. I really enjoyed his assessment that all three of those accomplishments he listed were design problems, and he used his theories in every thing he attempted. From the small design concept of his house at Monticello, to the larger issues of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedoms, Jefferson looked for the architectural solution.

    One thing he stressed as very important to him and Tulane was “Civic Engagement”, participating and giving back to the community. Tulane students and faculty participate in numerous community activities through the Tulane City Center, including the Urban Build House each year. They have so far built 5 houses in Central City and Treme. They are based on traditional New Orleans shotgun or camelback style houses, with modern additions and updates. They all offer open porches to allow neighbors to congregate and socialize, just as the large front porches always have facilitated a feeling of community. These houses are energy efficient and built with green materials. They have brought both compliments and criticism for their designs, since like many old neighborhoods, some people in Central City and Treme are resistant to change. One other project that was exciting to hear about was the recent grant Tulane received. The million-dollar grant will be awarded over the next ten years, one hundred thousand dollars per year, to one non-profit organization each year. This years grant is going to the “Guardian of The Flame” project, the effort to maintain the history of the Mardi Gras Indians. The Mardi Gras Indians are a cultural and historical gem of New Orleans, and this project will go a long way to preserve their history.

    I thoroughly enjoyed having Dean Schwartz as our guest speaker. He was articulate, well informed and informative. His vision and commitment to New Orleans will surely give Tulane the leadership and direction to continue its powerful contribution to this city and community, and maintain its status as a “Hidden Gem” in the architecture world.

  • Adley
    AdleyM

    I probably sound like a broken record, but this class is full of inspirational guests! I love it! But by far, Sir Kenneth Schwartz has enthused me and persuaded me not to change my major from Urban Planning. He made me realize part of the reason, without even realizing it, why I wanted to become an Urban Planning major, which is because I want to be involved in the future architecture of our whole city. Not actually the planning of a house, like Dean Schwartz, but where these houses and buildings will go and all that good stuff. I was so excited after he got into the meat of his powerpoint.

    I had never made the connection that architecture is a social and political part of a society until he said that. It is so true. In order to make a community or neighborhood, so many things have to be brought into play before the stuff begins. You have to see what the people want, need, the historical pieces, the zoning issues,if the land is good to use, financial availabilities and so many other things.

    Dean Schwartz is obviously an extremely intelligent, well rounded man. He is in-touch with society and the environment. When he elaborated on the UrbanBuild projects I was so fascinated by these houses. They took elements of traditional houses of New Orleans, but changed it up with a modern look with recycled materials and more green. They didn’t take away from roominess or how it welcome neighbors-the lower porches, because in broader terms, architecture really is an art. And it wasn’t like they went to work and left, but they got involved in the communities and talked to neighbors. I’m sure that helped so much in seeing what their needs and wants were and just making neighborhood friends. I think I would have gone to Tulane just for this program…if only it wasn’t so expensive. To build anything in our city other things have to be brought into play that are adaptations to our under sea level circumstances.

    Dean Schwartz elaborated a little on how he helped the Vietnamese communities reinhabit their neighborhoods involving urban farms and also with low density houses.

    Dean Schwartz has so much experience behind him and a caring nature, considering he is not from our city or state, but realized the needs, wants and, don’t wants of our city. I truly appreciate his doings here. Amazing.

    “Architecture is a play of tradition and invention.”
    -Dean Kenneth Schwartz

  • JonathanR
    JonathanR

    What more could be said about Mr. Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA that has not already been said. He is the Dean of Tulane University, as well as the Professor of Architecture at Tulane University. He is dedicated to helping others not himself. This is why I commend Mr. Kenneth. It takes a lot for a person to leave what they called home to only move and make a new home. He has over twenty-seven years of teaching in architecture and urban designing. He is a gentlemen and a scholar in my book. One of the things that I feel was necessary to bring up is how he moved to New Orleans after Katrina to help with the problems that natural disasters caused for us.
    This is extremely important because this is the re-build of a city we all love. Where in the world can you find a place like New Orleans, Louisiana? You cannot, it is just simply to hard to find a place with such thriving culture and existence. As well as I, Mr. Kenneth has also grown to love this city and knows it as his home. When I moved to New Orleans, I was ecstatic to finally be in the city of my dreams with skyscrapers and tug boats, this is the man that makes part of my dream last. One thing that I have wondered about is how building stay so secure and sturdy on this horrible soil we have on the southern coast. New Orleans being a bowl must make it challenging.
    Mr. Kenneth is a man that everyone wants to be around and learn from. He helps the city as well as teaching the generation to learn and respect the city as well. This is the kind of person that I want helping my town. I thank Mr. Mayfield and his staff for allowing and asking Mr. Kenneth Schwartz to come as well as Mr. Kenneth Schwartz and his staff for allowing Mr. Schwartz to come. As always, I love learning and coming to this class, it betters me as a person and helps me to learn more about my city and its leaders.

  • BrittneyT
    BrittneyT

    Kenneth Schwartz, Dean of School of Architecture at Tulane , has done many amazing architectural things for this beautiful city in such a short period. He has been a very interactive, productive individual in his time here. He uses Thomas Jefferson to explain how he thinks of architecture in many different senses; it really gets through and opens your mind to different architectural aspects.
    It is not just him either, he is taking many motivated young students and putting their ideas into action, helping to expand their knowledge and his. Learning from colleagues is an important method of gaining knowledge and aiding in trying new things.
    Urban Build is a project where they take the traditional housing looks of New Orleans and modernize them safely and effectively. It is reassuring to know they consider all factors and find solutions to the problems people face when living in New Orleans, such as flooding for example.
    Its really comforting to see someone not from this city so dedicated and motivated to helping a community he has known only for a couple years. He is doing a great job and can only continue to do better it seems with his open-mindedness and effort to get more and more people involved. Also, it really encourages me to get involved in more activities I have always wanted to try when he mentioned that you should push yourself and try things out of the ordinary to keep building yourself and take yourself further as an individual.

  • ChristieD
    ChristieD

    Mr. Kenneth Schwartz, this past week’s speaker, is the Dean of the School of Architecture for Tulane University. Mr. Kenneth came to New Orleans about two years ago in 2008 from the School of Virginia where he taught architecture as a professor. He came to New Orleans to be the Dean of Architecture for Tulane and also because he was interested in helping with the rebuilding of New Orleans. Being devastated from Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans needed and still needs architects that are dedicated to rebuilding New Orleans and I think its very admirable that Mr. Schwartz is one of those architects. I learned a lot about architecture, a field I know very little about. Mr. Schwartz mainly spoke about the significant issues, like the historical issues, and problems going on in New Orleans architecture today. He also spoke about how architecture is political and how it is important to find balance in architecture. He explained a lot of things about architecture and how it is such an engaging subject and discipline. I found everything he said and showed us to be very interesting. It was really cool to see all the projects he worked on like the URBANbuild project homes that Tulane built. What is so interesting about those homes is that their modern but also incorporated and kept the traditional New Orleans design and style in these homes such as shotgun and camel back structures with open porches. Overall, I found Mr. Kenneth Schwartz to be a very interesting and caring man who is a great role model.

  • ChristieD
    ChristieD

    Like my fellow classmates’ said in their blogs, Mr. Kenneth Schwartz was a very interesting speaker and it was incredible to hear about all the work he has done here in New Orleans to help in the effort to rebuilding the city. I personally commend him for leaving his home and moving down here to help the people of New Orleans. His description of the field of architecture was extremely intriguing and fascinating. He said that “to him, architecture is a social art, and a political art.” He also spoke about his hero Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia, who was and is a big inspiration to him. One particular thing Mr. Schwartz stressed was how important is to participate and give back to your community. He, along with his Tulane students, are involved in what he calls civic engagement, which is how he gives back and contributes to the community of New Orleans. They participate in many community activities such as rebuilding homes for those victims of Hurricane Katrina who lost their homes in the flood. They have built houses in Treme and Central City. They incorporate modern design styles and also incorporate traditional New Orleans design styles as well. They have built shot-gun like type houses as well as camel-back style houses. They all have open porches in order to generate a feeling or sense of openness and friendliness. Large open porches generate a sense of community and togetherness which is what the New Orleans community needs, especially after the disastrous Hurricane Katrina.

  • VictoriaR
    VictoriaR

    Kenneth Schwartz the Dean Architecture of Tulane came to speak to us last week. His love for Tulane is apparent and his love for New Orleans is growing. I believe he is one of the best advocates for Tulane, because he truly believes in the work and projects his school is a part of. He spoke of the many projects Tulane is a part of and hopes the other projects currently on the table will be taken to the next stage in development. The discussion then turn to the Historic Preservation of New Orleans. I am not familiar with the PRC until this class so I decided to do a little research. “The mission of the Preservation Resource Center states it is to promote the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods.” This is a direct quote taken from there website located at http://www.prcno.org/aboutprc/mission.php. The work the PRC is undoubtable needed in this city however the rules and regulations may seem bias when it comes to certain development projects that occur in the greater New Orleans area. For example, one student in particular brought up how the new Walgreens that is being developed and the size is to large for the surrrounding neightborhood. The question was asked, “Where was the PRC to stop this?” While Professor Mayfield noted that while renovating his new home he purchsased in the Uptown neightborhood, he is having significant probelms gaining permits to expand his bathroom or do any work on his house for that matter. The lack of attention in the correct areas is what one students brought up. I absoltuly agree with this students opinion. I believe that the PRC needs to see the larger picture at hand rather then be so concerned with the details for example, the large Walgreens that is unnecessary is being built while concentrating on ones bathroom renovation. I did some further research into the PRC and found that the current Board of Directors is composed of bankers, educators, business associates, architects, and real estate assioates. The Board members serve for three years, the selection process includes having to be selected by the Nominating Committee. One selected you have to be elected and voted into the position. To make a difference in the decisions the Board makes I believe the citizens of this community need to go directly to the Board. By learning about the election process I have realized that I can make an impact and my voice can be heard. Kenneth Schwartz’s visit to our class inspired me to do research into the PRC, and realize how much of an impact I can make in my community. I end this with something I found to be most intriguing which was said in class, that architecture effects everything aspect of life, it is more then the building itself, but it can bring people together in a community. After his visit I have placed a greater importance on architecture in my community, and I thank Mr.Schwartz and the class discussion for this.

  • CharlotteZ
    CharlotteZ

    I’d never given much thought as to how architecture affects our social, economic, and environmental balance. In general, the term “architecture design” refers to several unique points of view of how to build a structure and that each perspective takes into consideration the fundamentals from the other, but that they usually have a different purpose or function. Uhmm…that sounds pretty boring. The idea that a constructed building (four walls), actually having a meaningful impact on the culture of a community was farfetched, but admittedly, somewhat thought provoking.

    The class interview with Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA, from Tulane University, started with the usual introduction from Professor Irvin Mayfield, and then we were going to watch a slide show presentation “Sliver by the river” given by Mr. Schwartz…AWESOME! And by awesome, I mean NOT awesome. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. I do enjoy listening to a knowledgeable person, who is able to support their presentation with solid information, AND is also passionate about the topic being discussed. Mr. Schwartz had all those qualities, and truly expanded the way I think about and define architecture design. I realize that on a day to day basis or in a moment of crisis, design can play an important role in some of the critical issues that affect a community and its population.

    After his presentation, Mr. Schwartz discussed programs that his department and students are actively involved in, such as the Urban Build project. While the majority of the program is of an architectural nature and the shapes that are used in the present day designs still adhere to geometric principles evolved from the simple shapes used in antiquity. Its the underlying tone, deeply rooted in sustaining the strength and longevity of the community as it builds and investment to help individuals who have a limited voice in the public that completely overhauled my perspective. Mr. Schwartz expressed with the most genuine sincerity that the program teaches students that development, planning, AND how it impacts a community is required and to be successful in an architect’s position.

    Kenneth Schwartz and his students have become a welcomed addition in the neighborhoods where they build homes and community gardens. The students engage with the residents throughout the design and construction of the homes. All of the projects Mr. Schwartz and his students are involved in thrive on their own ingenuity, and by embracing the people of the community and including their input into the process as it develops, Mr. Schwartz and his students have developed a relationship through discourse that reflect many cultural values and social individuality.

    I felt refreshed and enlightened after listening to Mr. Kenneth Schwartz today. I now have a meaningful interpretation of how design affects a culture in a community. Architecture takes an idea and makes it tangible, by creating the best fit for the wants and needs of a community on many different levels. It’s my hope that architects and educational institutions continue to be diligent in neighborhood based design, and help it to grow and mature. Now more than ever, with the Indonesian tsunami, BP oil spill, Hurricane Katrina, earthquake in Haiti, and global recession…there is a significant need for designs that can utilize minimal resources to bring about an impactful change.

  • Dana
    Dana

    As always, I enjoyed another week of Mayfield’s class. Kevin Schwartz is clearly a very passionate fellow; he forced me to rethink the term architecture. I now see architecture in a different light. I see it as something larger than a blueprint, or the unique way a home is designed. Architecture can be a discipline for change. Now, I see the impact that architecture has on everyone. An architect is a problem solver, and someone who has the ability to bring the community closer together.
    Schwartz and his students are doing some really interesting things at the Tulane’s school of Architecture. They are strengthening the city of New Orleans in many ways. Despite the fact they are coming up with innovative ways to help energy efficiency, they are bringing the community closer together with their neighborhood projects.
    These projects are a symbol for change. Schwartz and his students are trying to make New Orleans a better place. They are starting at the bottom, one house at a time. I began to wonder why they weren’t working on a larger scale. For example, trying to construct a LEED certified building on Tulane’s campus. However, that wouldn’t have any impact on the community of New Orleans, and civic duty seems to be important to Schwartz. If Schwartz and his students don’t do it, then who will.
    It’s not a secret that New Orleans didn’t rebound from Katrina like some other cities after being destroyed by hurricanes. For example, Miami and hurricane Andrew. Politicians appear to be the ones we need to blame. However, Schwartz has an interesting point; we put the politicians into office. The citizens of New Orleans can’t be oblivious to the cities problems. After all, problems are evident all over the city. This is where Schwartz and his student’s impact on the community can be most successful. It can bring the awareness into the neighborhoods.
    Civic duty is extremely important. Furthermore, Schwartz and his students help the community realize their civic duty. In many of Schwarts’ slides, the community came together to celebrate the completion of the house. This was one of the most significant accomplishments of their program. They are giving low income neighborhoods hope which could instill a sense of pride in individuals leading them to the idea of civic duty. That is what the city needs. It all start with our neighbors. Neighbors helping Neighbors. Neighborhoods helping the city.
    After all, if we don’t help each other, who will.

  • CynthiaW
    CynthiaW

    Kenneth Schwartz, from Tulane University, was interviewed this week and I was in heaven listening to his presentation. I have been an artist since birth and he inspired me to continue to pursue my dream. Did you know that the New Orleans Trilogy is food, music and architecture? Kenneth moved here two years ago and his wife is also an architect. He is a professor and he spent two years teaching at Virginia University, in addition to practicing architect. Kenneth states, “Architecture needs to understand his/her place in society; it’s a social art, a political art; architect has real meaning of society.”
    Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was an architect? Kenneth loved Thomas Jefferson because of this and he studied him for many years. He said Jefferson saw design opportunities all of the time, he was one of his heroes, and he cited three things: author of Declaration of Independence, author of Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and he was the founder of the University of Virginia.
    Tulane City Center was formed after Katrina and it was developed to help do good work in the community. Their mission: is to take on projects that have relevance. It’s partly research. Urban Field House is well known for Tulane students designing houses in one semester and building them the next semester. These beautiful houses are around the city and they are affordable housing which range from $125-$145 thousand. This program has over 300 students and 30 faculty members participating in this program.
    According to Kenneth architecture is an engine for positive change in New Orleans and it has a unique moment in history. He finds Tulane engaging, architecture is beautiful, food is delicious, favorite word is imaging, least favorite word is discrimination, and closed minded people turns him off.

  • JoshuaS
    JoshuaS

    Our guest this week was Kenneth Schwartz who is the present dean of the School of Architecture for Tulane University here in New Orleans. When learning about Mr. Schwartz, I find that he has a lot of knowledge of Architecture, and a huge interest in the preservation and re-building of the architecture of New Orleans. Mr. Schwartz is not a native of New Orleans, but from Virginia where he was highly active in his university and community. It is amazing that someone who has only been a resident of New Orleans has made such a helping hand for our city. He had in interest in taking a proactive stand in the re-building of New Orleans through Tulane University post-Katrina. Architecture is a huge component of the culture and history of New Orleans. When thinking of architecture in New Orleans, so many styles and designs come to mind. I instantly think of Creole cottages, American townhouses, shotgun houses, double gallery houses, as well as bungalow style houses. Then on a broader scale, I instantly think of New Orleans neighborhoods like the historic French Quarter, the Central-Business District, and the houses and buildings along St. Charles Avenue. Architecture plays a very large role in our city, and like Professor Mayfield says the architecture is just as important as the great food and music of our city.

    Being a New Orleans native, I admire anybody who is helping re-build the city after the huge devastation from Hurricane Katrina. In the interview we find out a lot of the projects that the non-profit Tulane City Center is involved in. They deal with grants, foundation money, civic duties, and community projects. Mr. Schwartz explains to us about a one million dollar grant that he has to disburse to non-profit organizations to use to work on a project of their choice. One that he mentions that caught my attention is one that is going to preserve history of the Mardi Gras Indians, and possibly build a museum or civic center to preserve their history. Non-profit organizations can apply for these monies, and after approved they will have the funds to make their projects a reality.

    Urbanbuild is another project that Tulane University is actively involved in. URBANbuild is a design program in which Tulane students design and construct prototype homes for many of New Orleans’ neighborhoods. The programs main purpose is the revitalizing of New Orleans cultural and architectural heritage through the hard work of many students, organizations, and businesses in the area. Through this project students and staff are able to research locations in the city, then design and construct a building or a house. When visiting Urban Build’s website, I was able to see some of the projects that they have completed and I have to say these building prototypes are very impressive. The designs are very innovative, futuristic looking, and at the same time very efficient. Although theses houses aren’t a shotgun house, or Creole based, they definitely have a very unique design that will be a new addition to our culture.

    Mr. Schwartz is a very talented, highly educated, dedicated person. He is running a great program at Tulane University with a great team behind him. I enjoyed learning about the projects they are implementing through TCC and Urbanbuild, and will be very happy to see what new endeavors they will take on!

  • SophieK
    SophieK

    Our guest this week was Kenneth Schwartz, the Dean for Architecture at Tulane University. I enjoyed his visit immensely; learning about all the current projects Tulane is involved with was intriguing. He brought along information for each student to bring home on the location and project description that Tulane is involved in. I was amazed by all the community architecture projects happening In New Orleans that I was not aware of.
    I particularly found the Holly grove Market interesting. Mr. Schwartz presented a PowerPoint with pictures and diagrams. His visit was one of the most visually stimulating lectures we have had all year. After learning about the Holly grove Market I did some further research and came upon their website and saw how active they are within the community. The community runs the store and is constantly providing education programs for children and students. To me this market is a much-needed resource located in an area that before I found not a lot of positive development occurring. The website features pictures of the farm, which is a large complex and has the ability to sustain a market that sells produce six days a week.
    This whole idea of farming in an urban environment I believe is the only way that organic produce can become affordable. Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, which enhances the flavor and health benefits of the vegetable. However, growing large scales organically is extremely expensive and so it is not accessible to everyone. I believe growing organic produce on a smaller local level is a solution to creating organic, affordable produce. Holly grove market is an example of this in that it is offering produce to the community. Some of the things being grown in the farm are variety of lettuces, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, dill, parsley, and carrots. This is just an example of a few of the current produce being grown, each community farmer maintains their own sections growing what is in season and fits their personal taste. One of my favorite sections is the Master Gardener’s of New Orleans whose goal is to educate the public on seasonal gardening. Not only did they grow strawberries during the summer months they also grew eight different varieties of basil. The basil grew from seeds from Italy and Spain.
    After spending time reading the different growers currently growing on the farm I came across the Volunteer page, which I learned seeks volunteers throughout the year to help the farm and manage the market. I hope to volunteer there soon. I thank Mr. Schwartz for giving such a rich PowerPoint that included information on the Holly grove market. Without his visit I would have not learned about the market and all the opportunities currently available to me as a community member. Tulane’s participation in this market is commendable. Mr. Schwartz informed the class of Tulane’s past and present involvement in the Holly grove market. The school of architecture built many of the structures on farm.
    How architecture and the community go hand and hand is something that was evident from his visit. Architecture makes a large impact on the way a community functions. This connection Mr. Schwartz made, and the class elaborated on this idea I have never thought about until now. I have more of an appreciation for architecture and its positive impact within our city.

  • Cat0
    Semmes

    That class was great! I enjoyed being able to actually see some of the many projects geared toward rejuvenating New Orleans up close. I read news articles here and there or hear excerpts from radio or television shows that document people and the ways they are helping, but I appreciate getting to sit and listen to an uninterrupted, detailed explanation of one.

    I liked how Mr. Schwartz’s lecture was organized because I think it helped me grasp concepts of this profession—of which I previously had no experience—much quicker than I would have if I received a presentation with no visual aids. The pictures of the onsite building locations with students and faculty Mr. Schwartz showed us via PowerPoint helped me mentally arrange all the activities and goals he and his programs have aimed to achieve. I think having Mr. Schwartz come to UNO was a great idea because it allowed in the classroom a taste of tangible networking and current progress in the city. Mr. Schwartz was a fountain of information and educational resources! I appreciated the handouts and extra material he provided so that even though we did not have enough time to go over them in detail, we had instant access to more sources if we were so inclined. To me, I enjoyed how he was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the histories of various American and international cities. He referenced different port locations around the planet to give us a clearer illustration of what progress is guaranteed possible in populated coastal regions because of what has already been built and is in operation. I liked how he talked about Portland, Oregon’s, success and the successes of other cities’ development at their crucial “make or break” points and the various strategies they employed. I found it sobering and rejuvenating to remember that cities can be victorious in the battle to stay afloat, and that we can learn from them. New Orleans now travels into new and treacherous territory, but that does not mean we do not have a chance to thrive! People have done it before, and people down here have the benefit of having historical tenacity, ingenuity, and the help of people outside of New Orleans who are experienced and generous with their knowledge and hustle.

    I was excited Mr. Schwartz readily answered the question about architecture in relation to coastal development. Although he had established that he and his crew’s awareness of New Orleans’ location and its situation concerning water, a.k.a. The Gulf, in various instances, I did not expect how much Mr. Schwartz had to offer on the subject. I think it’s noteworthy enough to mention that I think there’s a difference between knowing about a subject and being able to teach a subject. Mr. Schwartz’s visit renewed my sense of optimism and reminded me of what good work ethics and a group of like-minded people can accomplish.

  • BenjaminT
    BenjaminT

    Having Ken speak to us last Wednesday was a very pleasant experience, for me. I have always had a unique interest in Architecture actually, I suppose because of my previous love of science and engineering, and the way that Architect is a blend of both that and Art!

    I actually would have wanted to study architecture at a university, here, a few years back; and would have gone into a career with it, if I hadn’t been compelled by other drives.

    The architecture of New Orleans is definitely one of the most important aspect of the city, in my opinion, and a major contributor to the “Flavor” of the city, that we will want to preserve in the older parts of town and Inspire in our new developments.

    I was very interested to hear what Ken had to say about Thomas Jefferson, his legacy, about the achievements he cited. That is definitely something I did not know! Also the slides that Ken showed and the info he told in class, were sometimes both very disturbing, and very educations. For instance, I had not actually seen the statistics, the figures of the flooding area maps. Nor did I ever really think too much about the different incomes and costs of living on the “higher ground”. I have always been right in the middle. I had always assumed these things, and the scope of the damage and flooded area caused by Katrina, but seeing the actual maps was a different story. There are few other places and cities in the Continental United States, that have a majority of their citizenry living below sea level!

    The community housing projects that the school had done, were great as well. Some if the pictures and slides I have seen before, but there were many I had not. They were all very interesting designs to me.
    I lived in a “shotgun” house for a long period of my life as well, and during Katrina, I was living in one in Bucktown. It was very different from the other, and “newer”, styles of home I have lived in. Thankfully we did not have flood damage there. But from where I was located, I could see directly across the 17th street canal, and into the gaping hole of the breach, from my back porch. It was a very depressing time indeed.

    I can imagine the thrill that his students get, with the hands on experience, and when they actually get to see the project, any architecture projects, completed for the first time. It is much like when an artist completes a list of recorded songs. And then finally gets to see his or her album printed, complete and ready to be shared with the world. I know Irvin Mayfield understands that experience, quite well!

  • prudenceg
    Prudence

    Professor Irvin Mayfield, began our class by describing the holy trinity of New Orleans arts: Music, Food and Architecture. He says, “Architecture is for everyone, not just architects” and, said that here in New Orleans, we understand how important, food and music is to our lives, but rarely see the relevance of architecture. By bringing Kenneth Schwartz, the Dean and Professor of Architecture, at Tulane School of Architecture to speak to our class, Professor Mayfield hoped to illustrate why architecture should matter in our lives.

    And, I must say on this day, the biggest thing I took away from our class, was the fact that; architecture is a significant and socially relevant feature of all of our lives. Our illustrious guest, Mr. Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA, is an articulate and passionate advocate for using architecture as an engine for positive change within the community. Schwartz says, “Architecture is a high art, with the role of the architect being besides high aesthetics, it also is to bring some sense of social relevance to the world we live in.” He also believes that sustainability and development can go hand in hand and that architecture is for everyone, not just architects. Schwartz comes from the University of Virginia, a university that was designed by Thomas Jefferson, who as he speaks about, is he is very much in awe of and reveres, as I do. Perhaps it is some of those same principals of Jefferson that have rubbed off on Schwartz, as an activist for the social community at large.

    Now as Dean of Architecture, some of Kenneth Schwartz’s most remarkable work has been in the University of Tulane’s City Center that houses the school’s research and outreach programs. The programs change over time but share a focus on improving the city through fostering global urban research, the development of flexible and innovative urban strategies, and for the provision of environmentally and culturally informed principles that guide the design and revitalization of the city. Importantly what these projects do is that they engage in the real issues of the community and are participating in the real working life of New Orleans.

    In particular, one of the Tulane’s and Mr. Schwartz’s projects that I was most interested in was that of the Neighborhood Story Project and their publication “ Cornerstones,” whose mission is to create a movement that documents and advocates for the overlooked and threatened landmarks of New Orleans. Their message really resonated with me- The Neighborhood Story Project (NSP) – a local community documentary program; that seeks to produce a publication that celebrates the vitality of the New Orleans neighborhoods. Their concern was that in the rebuilding after Katrina, that the local knowledge and places that make New Orleans’ communities strong would be missed. Thus the NSP decided to document New Orleanians as they returned home to their homes, and rebuilt the small businesses and meeting places that tie the city’s neighborhoods together. Their goal to “Through written narratives, interviews, photographs, and architect drawings, Cornerstones will document the intersection of places and people that make New Orleans great.”

    One of such places that they nominated for the project was, the “Mother-In-Law Lounge” of Ernie K. Doe fame and that of his vivacious wife, Antoinette (who passed last Mardi Gras) of which I am personally involved with and have known for some years. Despite admirable efforts by many volunteer groups and even R & B star Usher to revitalize and save the place, which was looking quite good last year, but I am so sorry to report that the last days of the place are now among us. This past summer I spearheaded several events to save the place, but at this time it is looking highly unlikely that the place will be open past Nov. or Dec. of this year. I will now look into the future to contact Mr. Schwartz in response to his offer to help NFP’s here in the city in connecting them with other agencies that can offer advice and assistance or in even forming a Non Profit Agency. I’m particularly interested in helping Betty Fox (Antoinette & Ernie K Doe’s daughter) find a suitable museum to safe guard all of the music memorabilia and cultural artifacts of the Mother-In-Law Lounge, once the place is closed. The other question that I would ask Mr. Schwartz would be in regards to his thoughts about a second phase to the Cornerstones and Neighborhood Story Project, and preserving those relationships between culture and architecture.

    I thank Mr. Kenneth Schwartz for showing us how important architecture is for the city of New Orleans; that it is as important for our community as red beans and rice, or even jazz.

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