McGill students grab top spots in architecture competition to rebuild New Orleans


Published: 14Apr2009

McGill University and its School of Architecture have garnered three of the top five awards for creating new home designs in devastated areas of New Orleans. In the student competition, top design schools were invited to submit original concepts to be judged on originality, innovation and sustainability, among other criteria.

McGill teams formed by students Justin Boulanger and Ann Rodgers; Jessica Dan and Hamza Alhbian; and David Dworkin and Andrew Hruby were among the winners selected from the many entrants from schools in North America. Michael Jemtrud, Director, McGill School of Architecture saw the competition as a unique opportunity to get students to design projects to fulfill the needs of real people. "The students proposed extremely creative and sensitive designs for a very difficult situation. I am very proud of all of them, and the response they received from the firm and community in New Orleans was tremendous." 

Many residents displaced by the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, have yet to return to the Gulf Coast area, as they lack shelter. Billes Architecture is the New Orleans-based firm whose competition is intended to make things right for former residents in the most-affected areas of the city.

The competition was based on criteria including aesthetics, feasibility, use of green building techniques and materials, and cost..  The aim is to generate a series of cutting-edge designs for single-family homes that could be built on empty lots in many of the still- devastated areas of New Orleans.  Students were asked to design homes with one of four neighborhoods in mind: Uptown, Downtown, Gentilly/Lakeview, and New Orleans East.  Each neighborhood came with its own set of criteria, such as setbacks, height restrictions, and lot sizes.

Among 10 finalists, seven were McGill teams. They travelled to the Renaissance Arts Hotel in New Orleans on April 11 for the ceremony.

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Cynthia Lee
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