Lovely N’Awlins proposal

Apartment building proposed for New Orleans. (John C. Williams Architects)

Apartment building proposed for New Orleans. (John C. Williams Architects)

Michael Rouchell, a New Orleans architect who frequently participates in the TradArch conversation, sent this design of his for an apartment building there. In allure, it is far and away beyond anything that has been proposed in Providence for decades. Rouchell said the design was about to go before the Historic Districts Landmarks Commission. I wish it luck!

Anyway, the design prompted a discussion of design review, and someone recalled having overheard the topic discussed at a party by some modernist architects, of the sort who always value novelty over beauty. They said:

Design review is corrupt because citizens on a design review board are effectively bribed by lowbrow but likeable buildings. In other words, all an architect has to do to bribe design review is to offer an attractive building.

My source marveled at the idea that “the attractiveness of the building is itself a corrupt inducement, so lay citizens shouldn’t be allowed on design review because they have a conflict of interest if someone proposes a ‘superficially attractive’ building.”

I guess design review in New Orleans is different from design review in Providence, where the appointment of a review-board member who might be swayed by the attractiveness of a proposed new building is simply inconceivable.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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