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|Thomy Lafon Elementary School, 2601 Seventh Street, New Orleans LA
||I'm writing the same here as I did about the Wheatley School, because they are both unique structures and both need to be brought back into service for the education of the children of New Orleans. These are stellar structures, smart and well-considered, much moreso than most new school construction.
Despite its current appearance, the Lafon School has the potential to be a gem, a symbol of the recovery of New Orleans and the neighborhood, and also a nationwide example for sustainable school construction through renovation.
The functional issues that have been identified could be addressed architecturally without either demolishing the building or significantly altering its character. These problems existed when the school closed because there was a dearth of resources and a lack of political will to address them. Now - with resources dedicated to making the school better, refocusing on the strengths of the existing building and how best to adapt it to contemporary needs - this school and neighborhood have a real opportunity!
This school structure far surpasses most contemporary school design in its thoughtfulness and regional specificity. It is part of the legacy of the city - every bit of which deserves to be preserved wherever possible.
As not only a former New Orleanian but also an architect of several well-received public school facilities, I think that the proposed demolition is short-sighted and merely expedient. This is a time when New Orleans needs thoughtful development, attentive stewardship of the things that make it unique, and a well-considered use of both the monetary AND cultural resources available.
Save this school!