Design For All: The Neutral Ground Market in Freret, New Orleans

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Virginia Tech

This project is a celebration. Inspired by time spent in Baltimore, this thesis examines how standardized elements can be utilized to create Architecture and make astute, functional, contextually sensitive, and pleasurable design accessible for all.

With the heavy, stuccoed buildings of New Orleans as precedent, the Neutral Grounds Market utilizes CMUs for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Drawing from a rich lineage of structural polychromy and through knitting CMUs together into a subtle pattern, the building speaks to its colorful context, despite the lack of CMU structures in the area.

Weaving ethics and aesthetics, the site sits within a Food Desert and this thesis begins at the seam of three neighborhoods - Freret, Milan, and Uptown. Block by block varies tremendously within these neighborhoods, and the static images of both the opulence and desolation of New Orleans becomes clear here. Aiming to bring not only fresh food into the neighborhood, but to work realistically within the diverse backgrounds of the residents’ lives, the program integrates a Farmer’s Market with a Grocery Store so fresh food will constantly be available and can meet the needs of all the citizens.

In addressing context as a matter of both the material, built environment and the personal, human milieu this thesis addresses the economic and the emotional as a pair, realizing the importance of each. This integrated program creates a new civic space which will bolster the vibrant growth already begun on Freret St. and throughout the neighborhoods. This project is a celebration.

Architecture, Farmer's Market, Materiality, Standardized Pieces, Color