Miami architect plans new Port-au-Prince

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Miami architect plans new Port-au-Prince

| architecture, buildings, built environment, Design, Engineering, government architecture, new buildings, Urban Planning | February 17, 2011

When I attended the University of Miami School of Architecture from 1974-1976 (before transferring to Pratt) my studio director was Andres Duany.  He was a relative unknown and had recently graduated from Columbia.  I have very fond memories of my time in his classes.

Andres Duany

A slide presentation is available at www.PortAuPrinceRP.com.

Famed Miami architect and planner Andres Duany’s government-commissioned blueprint for the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince’s quake-decimated historic city center envisions a new, middle-class residential, commercial and governmental district literally built upon the rubble of the old.

While sparing the few remaining viable structures — including, most significantly, the partially collapsed National Palace — the plan would start virtually with a clean slate. It calls for clearing much of the badly damaged city center, encompassing some 25 city blocks, which pre-earthquake contained a dense mix of government buildings, homes, a commercial district and a cruise port.

Duany’s Miami firm, known for its advocacy of traditional, pedestrian-friendly urban planning, was commissioned by the Haitian government to develop the plan in collaboration with The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, a charity backed by Britain’s Prince Charles that supports ecologically sound planning and building.

The planners outlined their ideas this week in Port-au-Prince after weeks of research and a weeklong public workshop. A final version of the plan, which would have to be adopted by the government, is due in mid-February. Whether Haiti can muster the will or the financing, though, remains an open question. Enacting the plan would require a blend of government funding, private investment and foreign aid.

On ground raised above flood levels by the use of demolition rubble, the plan calls for self-contained blocks mixing one- and two-story residential and commercial buildings to be constructed in small, incremental phases. While street fronts would be public, courtyard interiors would be secure and private and include parking. Small corner parks would dot most blocks.

The plan also proposes a Classically inspired, naturally ventilated prototype for new government buildings to replace those toppled by last year’s catastrophic earthquake.

Key to Duany’s overall rebuilding strategy would be luring back to central Port-au-Prince some of the Haitian middle class that had decamped for the city’s hilltop suburbs — the only financially viable way for the old city center to be rebuilt, Duany has said in interviews.

Reconstruction of the city would be impossible without the investment and income of middle- and upper-class property owners, Duany says.

The plan outlines three possible approaches to rebuilding.

To keep initial costs down, one approach would be to rebuild a single block at a time, with each urban “village” containing at its center its own power generation, water and sewer capabilities, at a cost of about $3.7 million per block. That would avoid the need for a large, upfront and improbable investment to replace destroyed utilities across the entire urban center.

But that approach would over time be far more expensive — a total of $440 million — than doing everything at once with centralized utilities, which the planners estimated would cost $175 million.

The plan would require new building codes and zoning rules to control what can be built. It proposes a range of rigor, with the loosest set of regulations allowing informal construction in the interior of each block.

A contemplated retail complex and waterfront promenade would cater to an incipient tourist trade from the cruise port to supplement government and small-business employment.

Along the waterfront, mangroves would be replanted to protect the shoreline from storms.

Duany, whose firm, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., drew up Miami’s new pedestrian-friendly Miami 21 city zoning code, also has designed prefabricated shelter housing for Haiti. He also has designed redevelopment projects for post-Katrina New Orleans, although only small parts have been implemented.

Via The Miami Herald

About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the untapped potential of making historic architectural masterpieces more sustainable. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

2 Responses to "Miami architect plans new Port-au-Prince"
  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David C. McFadden, Kevin Parent. Kevin Parent said: Andres Duany’s government-commissioned blueprint for the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince’s quake-decimated historic c…http://lnkd.in/Z5VgP2 […]

  • jean-robert Lafortune March 2, 2011


    The Haitian Government’s decision to commission a Miami Firm for the rebuilding of Port-au-Prince deserves a closer look. Selecting outright an architectural firm without a bidding process and competition may not best in the best interest of Haiti and Haitians. Issuing no-bid contracts to foreign firms has become the official modus operandi of the Preval/Bellerive government that is known for its ineptitude, narrow vision, and incompetence. Rebuilding the capital center of nation should not be about seeking a quick-fix, finding easy solutions, and exclusion of Haitian professionals themselves that are performing very well in major institutions and discipline throughout the world. The Preval Government having lost touch with the capability and ability of talents within the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, Canada, and Latin America has opted to giveaway Haiti’s resources to entrepreneurs whose purpose is to make a quick buck on the misery of the Haitian poor. For that matter, the Island nation of Haiti has overnight been transformed as the new El Dorado where anyone brave enough can make a quick buck with no question asked. Haitians must learn to be more demanding of their leaders and hold those professing to be their friends accountable. Rebuilding a capital city should not be the personal affair of government bureaucrats and the Haitian elite. This venture should include all the mosaic of the Haitian society at home and abroad. The resident of Cite Soley like the member of the Haitian Elite should be given the same opportunity to participate to share their common vision and knowledge in rebuilding a better Haiti. The so call Port-au-Prince Planner by putting in place a public policy process that is fundamentally bias may be contributing to the failure of its own plan. It appears that the Preval/Bellerive Government is repeating the same mistake that it did last year by submitting at the United Nations Donors Conference an Haiti Action Plan that was completely alien to the Haitian People. As the former Jamaica Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson puts it at FIU last year . President Preval presented the Government Plan. Operating in transparency and through a democratic process by bringing disparate voices to the table to reach consensus and a common vision are valued attributes of the western democracy that the Haitian State owes to all of its citizens. When policymakers rob their constituents of those rights, they inadvertently plant the seeds of rebellion and discord within their society. Within the Haiti Interim Commission on Reconstruction dubbed as the Clinton Commission, there has been plenty of lip service from many quarters claiming that the new Haiti should be built by Haitians for Haitians. In reality, within that Commission Haitian voices have been conveniently silenced. Silencing Haitian voices regarding the induced adoption of the November 2010 Elections, the cholera outbreak, and now adopting a questionable plan to rebuild Port-au-Prince with no participation of the Haitian Diaspora are quite disturbing to say the least. I am not certain that if the Port-au-Prince Architect has allowed a 30 day comment period before the project is finalized.

    We are urging the Preval/Bellerive Government to revisit the idea of rebuilding the Capital City of Port-au-Prince by opening a competitive process where Haitian professionals and scientists can also have an opportunity to submit their idea and vision for a better and stronger Haiti. This could be a worthwhile legacy that President Preval could leave for the posterity.

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