Boon for Broad Street

Joint submittal awarded second place

Posted by Katherine Koss November 19, 2009

A joint submittal by the Sam Fox School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) placed second in the 2009 Chase Community Development Competition, which challenges student teams to partner with a New Orleans non-profit organization to develop a real estate project that strengthens the local community, with an eye toward sustainability.

Titled "Broad Street reFresh: A Fresh Food Hub for Community, Health & Economic Development," the proposal centered around the redesign of and reinvestment in an existing grocery store on historic Broad Street in New Orleans, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. By transforming Robert’s Fresh Market, an important local landmark, into a retail anchor in this key corridor, the team hoped to provide a model for further economic development in the area.

Sam Fox School students Brendan Wittstruck (MArch/MCM11) and Philip Burkhardt (MArch/MUD11) teamed with Jacquelyn Dadakis and Aditi Mehta from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning to create a comprehensive design and financial plan for the redevelopment of the site. They worked in conjunction with Broad Community Connections, a local non-profit focused on the revitalization of the Broad Street corridor, and were guided by faculty advisors Derek Hoeferlin, senior lecturer in the Sam Fox School, and Karl Seidman, senior lecturer at MIT.

"The project was a great fusion of design lessons from the School of Architecture with the myriad practical elements involved, including feasibility figures, development strategies, and neighborhood impacts," Wittstruck said. "While we focused on the physical redesign of the site, we were also constantly involved in looking at the effects of the project on civic life."

Broad Community Connections was awarded a $15,000 seed grant for the proposal's second-place finish. Awards were announced at the Brownfields 2009 Conference in New Orleans on November 17, following presentations by the five finalists in the competition.

First place was awarded to a joint submittal by the University of New Orleans, DePaul University, and Louisiana State University; third place went to a proposal by The New School. For a full list of finalists and descriptions of their projects, visit the competition website.

This isn't the first time the Sam Fox School and MIT collaborated in the competition, with great success. In 2008, the Sam Fox School/MIT team took first place for the project "The Franz Building: From Recovery to Rebirth." Teaming with non-profit partner Good Work Network, the students sought to transform Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in the Central City neighborhood through the renovation of key buildings, with their proposal focusing on the historic Franz Building.

The opportunity to broaden his on-campus learning experience by working with both community partners and students from another school proved invaluable to Wittstruck.

"It's a model for studio work that I would like to see more often in architectural education," Wittstruck said.