Thomy Lafon Green
Suzanne Turner Associates worked with FEMA, the New Orleans Recovery School District, and the local community to conceptualize a memorial for a school site damaged by hurricane Katrina in 2005. This site originally functioned as a pauper’s cemetery in the nineteenth century and was also the location of the 1952 Thomy Lafon School designed by Curtis and Davis Architects.
Two major themes, the Curtis and Davis design, and the Locust Grove Cemeteries are represented symbolically through two different surface treatments—one in lawn, the other in native south Louisiana prairie.
The original Curtis and Davis building ‘boomerang’ shaped footprint is represented by a seeded lawn—the “community lawn,” a large open green space for passive community recreation and reflection. Conceptually, the mown lawn represents the literal human imprint on the landscape.
The Locust Grove Cemeteries are represented within spaces surrounding the community lawn and are seeded with native grasses and wildflowers. These spaces are reserved for natural hydrological processes as well as wildlife habitat. The life cycle of the native prairie directly relates to our human mortality, providing a perpetually evolving memorial for those interred in the Locust Grove Cemeteries.
The other two themes: the African American school and Thomy Lafon are represented on aluminum panels surrounding the interpretive garden.