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||Name redacted at the request of the author
||New Orleans, LA
||I am writing to state that i am against the demolition of Wheatley.
I have watched several New Orleans building be wastefully demolished and replaced by unfortunate, forgettable, and 'affordable' alternatives (rivergate, cj pete, and lafitte come to mind). Now that the same fate is being discussed for Wheatley i feel some need to speak as a designer interested in our built heritage, in the sustainable and culturally responsible recovery of the city, and as someone with five generations of family from New Orleans (many of them educators).
During the community meeting the other night the Recovery School District representative stated that the RSD's main objective is the education of our children, and with that in mind they would like to tear down wheatley and build a new state of the art school. No one will argue with the idea of kids and their education as a priority. We are all for the education of our children. But we must remember that beyond computer labs and lesson plans, we educate through our actions. By tearing down Wheatly we teach our children that history and the ideas and optimism of the past are useless. We would perpetuate the idea of our disposable culture, and of the worthlessness of the old and used. If however we work to preserve and improve the historic building to accommodate current needs, we are teaching our children to be good stewards of the past, that history has value for us as a culture, we can show what it means to be sustainably minded citizens, and that there is a chance for redemption (for our buildings, and ourselves despite how old an battered we might be)
The few complaints about the historic building and the way it functioned in the past can be easily remedied by any architect with a slight amount of creativity, and all the architects i know would be honored with such a challenge. I support a plan for the preservation of the old building with the addition of a new building on the school grounds such as the schematic plan presented at this week's meeting.
Thank you for your time.