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||New Orleans, LA
||As has been proven by the reports ordered by the Orleans Parish School board, it would be cheaper and faster to renovate the Thomy Lafon School than it would be to tear it down and build anew. However, since this site has not been identified as a site for a future school under the Orleans Parish School Board Master Plan, the demolition of this architecturally and culturally significant building is being proposed for nothing other than the fact that it is blighted. The condition of the school as it sits currently is due to neglect and storm damage [but mostly neglect].
This building was designed by Curtis and Davis, one of the most noted architectural firms in New Orleans, lauded locally and nationally. The Thomy Lafon School is significant in its architectural design and its place in our cultural history.
Why would we take one more important element from this city if we did not have to? It would be depriving the future generations of the chance to learn "hands on" about history and how historical material can be brought to life again when a building is adapted to incorporate energy efficient components [of which this building already has, since it was built with our climate in mind], new wiring to accommodate all of the current and projected technology that any building of today would include, and any other "state-of-the-art" elements that our school children deserve. It also has the advantage over a new building in that it conserves money, time, and resources to adapt an existing building - a lesson in itself now that we, as a whole, are facing our attention on being ecologically conscious of our actions.
For the lovers of New Orleans history, architecture, and the city itself - it would be respectful to not demolish this building. For those who are interested in sustaining our natural resources and ecologically-minded construction - it would be more successful and less wasteful to adapt this building rather than demolish it. For those who are standing up for the education of our children and future generations - the lessons that can be learned through this building, as a great piece of architecture and as an important moment in our city's history, cannot be replaced if it is demolished. Most of us, I believe, are interested in all of the above. That being the case, not demolishing this building is the most responsible and sensible course of action.
president, DOCOMOMO US/Louisiana Chapter [DOCOMOMO/NOLA]