In the wake of the 2016 floods, which devastated 21 South Louisiana parishes turned into federal disaster areas, the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio invited Louisiana mayors and parish presidents to a workshop, part of their Louisiana Community Resilience Institute. The workshop was modeled on a national initiative called the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, to help transform communities through holistic design. The Studio’s goal was to refine and advance Louisiana decision-makers’ ideas to solve flooding problems across the state while also improving neighborhoods, transportation, recreation, public health, economic development, etc. While LSU is home to hundreds of experts in engineering, science, and design—and the #1 landscape architecture program in the nation—units like the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio help bring all of this expertise together to take on pressing challenges.
Traci Birch, interim managing director of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio and assistant professor in the LSU School of Architecture, engaged communities in Tangipahoa Parish to ensure their concerns and desires became part of the proposed design. Clint Willson, director of the LSU Center for River Studies and professor in the LSU Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, deployed eight teams of senior-level hydrologic design students to take a watershed approach to the issues in Tangipahoa Parish. The team has been working closely with Dana Brown & Associates, a landscape architecture and planning firm based in New Orleans led by LSU landscape architecture alum Dana Brown.