Research

  • A Receding Coast: The Architecture and Infrastructure of South Louisiana
  • GRANTEE
    Virginia Hanusik
    GRANT YEAR
    2017

Virginia Hanusik, houseboat on Lake Maurepas.

South Louisiana is experiencing the effects of coastal erosion faster than anywhere in the world, losing a football field-size piece of land every thirty minutes. It is projected that by 2100, most of South Louisiana will be under water. In an attempt to combat the rapid sea-level rise, state policies mandate the elevation of homes below sea level, and, as a result of this and similar resiliency measures adopted, residents of these lowlands have had differing capacities to implement the forced structural changes. This project looks at the history of building practices and architectural adaptation in Southeast Louisiana since the seventeenth century to the present day. Pivotal moments that influenced federal infrastructure policy such as the 1927 Mississippi River flood and Hurricane Katrina are explored in the context of contemporary architectural styles reflecting the global effects of climate change.

Virginia Hanusik is an artist whose work explores the relationship between architecture and culture. She is currently the manager of programs at Propeller, a non-profit in New Orleans that supports entrepreneurs working in the fields of public health, water management, education, and food security. Since 2014, she has worked closely with state and city governments in Louisiana on water issues related to future planning for coastal and urban environments. Prior to moving to New Orleans, Hanusik was supported by the Geoffrey H. Bruce Fellowship at Arcosanti and the Mellon Foundation for her work in architecture and photography. Her projects have appeared in publications such as Fast Company, the Atlantic, Places Journal, Oxford American, Newsweek, and Next City. She received her BA in environmental and urban studies from Bard College.