Site of the Bonne Carre, 1892.

Changes over 77 years, 1969.

27 years later, 1996.




This image shows the Bonnet Carre spillway when it is dry, during flooding, and the accrual of sedimentation that is left from the water that moves through it. The right column shows the movement of water through the site and the points at which the spillway opens and closes.


Pattern map showing the distribution of high land (darkest), wetland (medium grey), and water (light greys) around the Bonnet Carre. Diagrammatic sections too.

The Bonnet Carre and Morganza spillways are two release valves engineered into the Lower Mississippi River.  The spillways are opened when the spring floods arrive and there is too much water for the levee system to handle.  Bonnet Carre is located 35 river miles north of New Orleans and Morganza is located north of Baton Rouge.  Water from the Mississippi exits to Lake Pontchartrain via the Bonnet Carre and into the Atchafalaya via Morganza.  The release valves relieve pressure on the levee system and are placed to protect the urbanized areas of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  I created this info graphic to show for how long and to what capacity the Bonnet Carre was opened each of the total ten openings.

The Bonnet Carre was constructed in 1931 after the infamous flood of 1927, the event that spurred the 1928 Flood Control Act and the appointment of the US Army Corps of Engineers as the lead designers of the Lower Mississippi River Control System.  I’ll unpack that statement later on in another post.


Posted: May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
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6 days and counting until our final review.  Here’s the concept of what I’m attempting to do:

The redesign of the Visitor’s Center and Desoto Park I propose is an interpretation of the Louisiana landscape with a highly engineered wetland cleaning system.   I’ve defined productive landscapes as landscapes that enhance natural systems in ways that have social, ecological, or economic value.  They produce goods or services that benefit people and the environment.  This particular design treats water on site, within urban and disturbed natural system contexts.  An elevated, constructed wetland addresses the problem of the Mississippi’s pollution, providing an area protected from flooding for the water cleaning system to function.  The treated water is directed to crawfish and fish ponds.  Annual crawfish boils and fish frys take place at the Visitor’s Center to celebrate Louisiana’s culinary heritage.

The design speaks to interstitial connections of human settlements with ecological areas.  Rarely do we see binary relationships in human settlement patterns and ecological typologies; rather patterns of branching and networks emerge with edge conditions that lack clear boundaries.  Human consciousness is evolving to deconstruct the barriers we’ve erected in perceiving reality in binary relationships and in doing so, we meet the interstices and hybrid expressions of that which is in between.  The overall design seeks to express this phenomenon.

For this site observation, I found an open space and measured 5 different sized areas that will assist me in visualizing the amount of space needed for the design of productive landscapes.  I choose to create spaces with varying radii of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 feet.  I marked the measurements with orange flags and photographed them.  In the studio I put together the photos with a satellite aerial photo from google earth (measurements of the existing borrow ponds taken from here), diagramming on top of them to draw out useful information.  This process allowed me to visualize what different amounts of space look like and feel like in our site.  Having measurements of smaller areas as well as the large borrow ponds provides a spectrum of sizes that I can work with as I design.  Whether these measurements will be used in subtracting or adding land, they serve the purpose of visualizing space in site.  I also measured two existing pathways (the only accessible ones as the other portions are now underwater).  These measurements give me an idea of lengths for walkways which are a part of my design.