Architecture in Distress: The Ethics of Practice and the Prioritization of Memory in a Post-Disaster Context, Sally Jane Ruybalid (3965224)
Due to the elevated status and perception of historic locations in the United States; their aesthetic and location are often disproportionately prioritized over others for disaster rescue following a major environmental event through the language of United States Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster response guidelines and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This thesis looks to investigate and therefore argue that although saving history is important; when it regards emergency disaster response and management, the prioritization of aesthetic and memory leaches critical resources away from more exigent situations, exacerbated by systemic disparities in architecture and historic preservation. This body of analytical work seeks to ask two critical questions about architecture, preservation, and memory: Is it more important to prioritize the present or the past when saving architecture and the people it impacts in the context of disaster response? What if architecture placed more significant effort toward people and their living historic spaces more than relics; and it would give practitioners time to contemplate what is worth saving, especially since historic preservation is rife with systemic exclusion and has problematic practice in its application? This composition will use New Orleans as a case study.