Vieux Carre Commission Foundation
The Foundation's charge is to support the Vieux Carré Commission in preserving and protecting not only the French Quarter's invaluable historic architectural heritage, but also its tout ensemble, or its quaint and distinctive character and ambiance. We pursue this mission in many ways, and on many fronts!
The Foundation already has a remarkable record of success in its relative youth. It has excelled at developing resources at the behest of the VCC that increase efficiency, transparency, and reliable planning results.
Exterior Lighting Design Guidelines: We conducted a detailed study and analysis of the Vieux Carré's nighttime environment, to provide property owners and VCC staff with prescriptive guidelines for the use of exterior lighting tailored to address the variety of building types and styles, the tout ensemble of the Vieux Carré, and public safety needs, including optimal lighting for security cameras. The results of the study were incorporated into new state-of-the-art exterior lighting design guidelines.
Vieux Carré Design Guidelines: This comprehensive project was designed to replace the outdated 1986 design guidelines for the VCC. The new guidelines provide detailed information and illustrations to instruct property owners, design professionals, contractors, VCC staff, and commissioners regarding appropriate exterior changes to properties within the historic district. They have been nationally and regionally recognized as an "exemplar" of "best practices":
• Won the biennial National Alliance of Preservation Commission Excellence Award for Best Practices
• Won the Design Award for Historical Preservation from the Society of American Registered Architects, PA Council
• Won the American Institute of Architects QUAD 2017 Design Awards Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design
• Accepted for inclusion in the Library of Congress
Morrison Memorial Lecture Series: This biennial event is part of an ongoing series to educate the public about issues of historic preservation and to honor two longtime residents and advocates of the Vieux Carré, Jacob Haight Morrison and Mary Meek Morrison, who were also ardent and tireless advocates for its preservation. It is coordinated in collaboration with The Historic New Orleans Collection and Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents, and Associates.
Vieux Carré Architectural Awards: This event traditionally takes place every four years, as an effort to acknowledge significant projects completed in the Vieux Carré in recent years. The 2016 awards honored projects completed between the years 2012 and 2015 that met and exceeded the exceptional standards set forth by the Design Guidelines and upheld by the Vieux Carré Commission. The 2020 awards will honor projects completed between 2016 and 2019.
VCC Foundation vs. The City of New Orleans, et al.: One of our most critical - yet most inglorious - projects currently in the works is a protracted legal battle to defend the Vieux Carré Commission as the official state-mandated watchdog of the historic district. The agency's authority was called into question by City Council after a property owner's attempt to bypass the VCC's review process for a construction project that violates the Design Guidelines. This procedural leap, if it were to succeed, would set an alarming precedent for future applicants to improperly sidestep the VCC and erode the fragile tout ensemble of the French Quarter. The Foundation filed suit against the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans City Council, and Cajun 411, L.L.C. in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. This is a hard-fought, costly legal battle to preserve the historic character of the French Quarter and the authority of the VCC, which has served as its guardian since 1936.
Vieux Carré Virtual Library: The Foundation's current project is to scan and electronically archive the VCC's priceless and irreplaceable historic collection of 44,000 slides, 4,000 property files and countless photographs and other artifacts, to create a virtual library that is resilient to the weathering of time and disaster. Using custom-made equipment coupled with state-of-the-art technology, all of the historic slides have been scanned, nearly all of the neighborhood has been painstakingly mapped in GIS, and the archive website has been developed to beta testing level. The end result will be a user-friendly searchable website that connects the public to the inner archives of the VCC as an integrative educational and planning resource.
Traditional Building Crafts Training and Preservation Education: Last, but farthest from least, is the development of the Foundation's next major program - a multi-tier education and engagement plan for all ages. Our goal is to raise awareness of the French Quarter's cultural, economic, and historical value, as well as to concretely educate people about the nuts-and-bolts of architectural preservation. One of the most compelling tenets of this plan is its emphasis on restoring traditional building crafts such as ironwork, plaster work, and masonry, which are critical to preserving the integrity of the trade and the historic building stock. Our goals are:
• Master Crafts Apprenticeships: To partner with workforce development programs to educate a new generation of skilled laborers to maintain New Orleans' historic architecture and preserve its traditional building crafts
• Preservation Education Events: To provide demonstrations and resources to French Quarter stakeholders that directly yield value to the district's distinctive character
• Vieux Carré Public Relations Campaign: To implement a strategic outreach and community engagement plan to increase the general public's awareness of the citywide economic and cultural significance of the preservation of the French Quarter
• Youth Appreciation: To facilitate and promote children's educational opportunities that foster awareness and ambassadorship for historic preservation
We're busy during this Tricentennial year of 2018, when we will unveil a preliminary Virtual Library website, along with our plans for implementing the new education program. With a staff of only one and a team of dedicated volunteers, this organization is small but mighty. We look to you for support in sustaining the Foundation's worthwhile efforts. Thank you for investing in the Vieux Carré Historic District - the economic base of the city's booming tourism industry and the cultural foundation of New Orleans' diverse architecture, population, and traditions.