Project Category: Open Space
Project Name: Reclaiming
the Lakefront: Pontchartrain Beach and Lakeshore Park
of Design Effort & Date of Completion: September 2011 - April 2012
Algero , University
project is a waterfront park design project located in New Orleans, LA, along
approximately 4 miles of the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. There are
three main components to this project: historical, recreational, and
Lake Pontchartrain has been an
crucial part of New Orleans’ history since it was discovered by settlers in
1699. Within the project site, there are the remains of a Spanish fort, an
historic lighthouse, important canals that have been used for centuries to
reach the Gulf of Mexico, and the remnants of beloved, local amusement park and
beach. The rich history of the site allows for interpretive signage and the
repurposing of older structures as a museum and visitor center. The linearity
of the site also allows for long and short walking paths that act as an
educational trail, ideally informing both locals and visitors about the
importance of this site in the city’s history.
Historically, this area was also a
hub for various recreation activities for people of this city. All recreation
activity ceased in the early 1980s, however, after decades of dredging and lack
of proper water management resulted in the degradation of the water quality of
Lake Pontchartrain, making it unsafe to swim or fish in the lake. Only a small,
historic beach and lighthouse remains today but the area is extraordinarily
underused due to years of poor water quality and public perception. The area
provides beautiful views to the lake but little else. This project preserves
the beach and lighthouse, utilizing a formal entrance plaza and staircase to
emphasize it’s historical importance.
The site is very linear but is unified by
it’s proposed recreation uses. The
stationary program elements, a commercial core, community recreation center,
and a redesigned Pontchartrain Beach area, anchor the park. A promenade, trail
system, and great lawn serve as connective tissue for more motion based
activities. These two types of program elements are spread throughout the site,
offering nearly unlimited recreation potential for every user group.
Interpretive hydrology is the third
element of this design. The importance of the watershed of the Lake
Pontchartrain Basin is overlooked by most residents in the area. The shores of
the lake offer the perfect opportunity for people to see firsthand the
interconnectedness of the water system that Louisiana relies so precariously on
and where they fit in that system. This
is an ideal location in the city for this to happen as the site is bordered by
the lake to the north and the levee to the south.
This design incorporates
stormwater channels along the promenade and other major elements on the site.
These channels collect the water and deposit it into larger channels throughout
the site. These channels are planted with native cypress trees and other swamp
vegetation, evoking the native ecosystems that were historically on this site.
After the water has been filtered by this process, it is then deposited to the
This shows visitors to the site that stormwater is not an issue so much
as it is an opportunity, that it can be both functional and beautiful. In a
city where people are historically separated from water by levees, pipes, and
pumps, this park’s aim is to bring the people to the water, to remind them of
what this place used to be and what it still can be, with their help.