chapter  3
30 Pages

Whose City Hall Is It? Architecture and Identity in New Orleans

WithKate Holliday

ABSTRACT New Orleans has had three city halls, all still standing. Built in 1795, 1845,

and 1957, these city halls represent different facets of the public image of the city as a

modern world metropolis, reflecting cosmopolitan French, Spanish, English, and

American fashions. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a proposal emerged in

2006 to demolish the third city hall, an International Style office tower, and replace it with

a National Jazz Center designed by Santa Monica-based Morphosis. A culturally and

historically situated discussion of how each of the three city halls reflects New Orleans’s

cultural identity can provide a context for debating the present desire to replace public

civic architecture with an architecture of private entertainment.