Viewing New Orleans through the architect’s lens
A New York City-based architect shares what made his Architectural Adventures trip to the Big Easy so special
Carlo Zaskorski, AIA, is the founder of Zaskorski & Associates, Architects in New York City. He’s also one of many architects who recently visited New Orleans through AIA’s Architectural Adventures travel program, which offers a series of expert-led, architecture-centric tours to destinations around the world. Zaskorski shares his thoughts on what made his trip to the Crescent City—led by Tulane University professor and local architectural historian John Klingman—a spectacular one.
Without John Klingman, this trip would not have been the same. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable, not to mention personable; we were learning from a colleague, and at a high level. My wife and I gained a real sense of the history and origin of New Orleans, from the arrival of the first settlers to Creole architecture and the buildings designed by the French and influenced by the English and the Spanish. We could only learn all that by either reading a tremendous amount or having someone like John point it out to us.
Having so many other architects on the tour was also important. It was a relaxed setting with your peers, and everyone has their own interesting stories to tell. At lunch and dinner, we often dined as a group at fine restaurants; you would have an opportunity to continue learning from other tourgoers about their practice or design trends in other parts of the country. It was quite valuable to hear from architects or design enthusiasts who are equally interested in architecture, city planning, and local culture.
"It was quite valuable to hear from architects or design enthusiasts who are equally interested in architecture, city planning, and local culture."
There was also a welcome bit of variety in where we had onsite visits with the designing architects. There was the National WWII Museum, the New Orleans Bioinnovation Center and the Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center but also a local neighborhood farm. And we went to a plantation, which I had never been to. It’s certainly a part of the Louisiana experience and story, but I suspect one that not many visitors get to experience. We were able to see New Orleans from many, many points of view.
Then there were the little things: it was fun to get on a streetcar. We don’t have those in New York. We also arrived a day early and were able to take a tour of recently elegantly renovated homes, visit the National WWII Museum on our own, and go to a recently renovated Art Deco theater featuring previews of a musical now on Broadway. You aren’t limited just to the strict itinerary of the tour. If you do your homework and plan in advance, you can find time for exploring.
This won’t be our last tour with Architectural Adventures; we’ve already signed up for the Rhine trip in July. We’re sure it’ll be the same high level of quality, and it’s a great way to get your learning units as well. If you’re not willing to walk a little bit, it may not be for you, but I can say that it’s certainly worth every step. —As told to Steve Cimino