PLAN 71: Article
Students Win Acclaim For Gulf Coast Work

A New Wiki Documents All of SA+P's Ongoing Involvement

Two teams of students from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning won acclaim this spring for proposals to help redevelop the cities of Biloxi and New Orleans, both deeply damaged by Katrina. Their efforts are among a host of SA+P initiatives that have recently been documented on an open-source wiki, MIT@NOLA, devoted to the school's ongoing involvement on the Gulf Coast since the storm.

One of the acclaimed teams this spring won a community development contest with a plan to renovate an historic building in New Orleans to support the activities of a non-profit business incubator there. As a prize, JP Morgan Chase Bank NA gave the incubator, the Good Work Network, $25K to begin the renovation; the students' business plan will be used to raise the rest of the funds.

The other team were participants in Eran Ben-Joseph's 'Site and Urban Systems Planning Studio', focused on Biloxi. As part of the course, jointly taught with the Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a dozen students traveled to Mississippi to explore how land use programs could be used to create a strategy for hazard mitigation in tidal wetlands. At a public presentation in May, residents and local officials were widely enthusiastic about the students' proposals.

Both efforts involved collaboration with students from other schools, a common characteristic of SA+P initiatives. The winning team in the Chase Community Development Competition – which bested eight other teams – included undergraduate architecture students from Washington University in St. Louis. The Biloxi Studio was a joint venture with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a local design assistance center tied to the architecture school at Mississippi State; the MIT team worked with students from Mississippi State and the University of Minnesota.

MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning has been and continues to be among the most active urban planning departments on the Gulf Coast since the hurricane. There have been studios, theses, practica and projects; students have been interns in the city's Office of Recovery and Development Administration (ORDA) and in neighborhoods all over the city; and professors have engaged in a variety of other projects.

In the open-source spirit of MIT, the MIT@NOLA wiki gathers the record of those involvements in hopes of informing and galvanizing future practice. Contributions are welcome from students, professors, practitioners, policymakers and community-members alike.

Some of What You’ll Find on the Wiki

Student Projects

Franz Building Redevelopment

Office of Recovery Management (ORM) Summer Internship Program

Development of a Policy Fellowship Program with the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative

Property Mapping in Gert Town

Broadmoor Redevelopment

Affordable Housing Policy Analysis

Environmental Justice in Treme

reGrow: Lafitte Corridor Independent Study

Media Communications, Outreach, and Organizing for People's Hurricane Relief Fund

Making It Happen

Surveying Needs of Grassroots Organizations

Sustainable Housing in the Coastal Areas of Louisiana


Site and Urban Systems Planning, Spring 2008

Financing Economic Development, Fall 2007

Sweat! Design! Build! International Workshop, January 2007

Revitalizing Urban Main Streets, Spring 2007

CityScope, Spring 2007

Downtown Management Organizations, Fall 2006

Financing Economic Development, Fall 2006

Volunteer Weeks: Rebuilding Housing, Summer 2006

Financing Economic Development, Spring 2006

The Lousiana Lift House Project, Spring 2006

Katrina Practicum, Spring 2006

Active Faculty

Xavier de Souza Briggs

Eran Ben-Joseph

John Fernandez

Reinhard Goethert

Charles Mathis

Karl Seidman

Phil Thompson

Larry Vale