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Of all the projects recognized by the 2013 Charter Awards jury, this project inspired particular warmth – particular enough to create a special award of recognition for its locally driven, handcrafted approach.
The project in question was a comprehensive resilience plan for Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, adopted unanimously by the town council in April of 2013. The isolated town of 2,000 residents is 20 miles southwest of New Orleans in the Barataria Bayou and functions in many ways like a single, complete neighborhood. For this reason, Dover, Kohl and Partners, staying true to the Charter, approached the project as a Neighborhood Scale Plan. The plan played a key role in getting Jean Lafitte’s proposed levee added to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan. At the same time the plan helped the town make difficult decisions about how and where to apply the strategies of “retrofit, reinforce and retreat.”
The Jean Lafitte Tomorrow Plan recommends a “slow retreat to the heartof-town” which facilitates the voluntary relocation of residents from indefensible, low-lying areas into more compact, walkable, mixed-use communities with substantial-enough investment to warrant reinforcement solutions. Resilient places would be built overtime in historic centers that were located originally in places with higher land elevations. These new centers would allow people who do not want to leave their community altogether an option to stay, and would maintain the community’s purpose and identity despite changing circumstances.
In this age of climate change, the Charter Awards jury saw Jean Lafitte Tomorrow by Dover, Kohl and Partners as a compelling and timely parable of new urbanist planning at its best. How better to tackle the challenges ahead than together, pooling resources and making our communities more sustainable, efficient, and enjoyable?
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