The reconstructed building, located in the heart of the historic Broadmoor neighborhood, will house a state-of-the-art library and a vibrant community center. The Keller Library was destroyed both as a physical structure and as a library repository during hurricane Katrina.
The library reconstruction project is the centerpiece of the Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan, a comprehensive rebuilding strategy inspired and shaped by the neighborhood residents themselves. Today's groundbreaking event at the Keller Library makes the Broadmoor Plan one of the first recovery projects to be implemented in any of the 17 redevelopment zones targeted by the City of New Orleans Office of Recovery Management.
The rebuilding plan was developed jointly by the Broadmoor Improvement Association, a neighborhood association representing the economically and racially diverse Broadmoor neighborhood in the heart of New Orleans, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The Broadmoor Association-Kennedy School collaboration, supported by philanthropist Walter Shorenstein and the Shell Oil Company, produced a thorough economic and social analysis of the neighborhood and, based on those findings, a blueprint for the community's renewal and recovery. Rebuilding the Keller Library was identified by the community as a critical component of the blueprint because the effort will serve as an important and concrete symbol of Broadmoor's resilience and rebirth.
'Broadmoor's vision for a rebuilt Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center is an extraordinary and uplifting example of a community seizing the initiative to literally rescue itself and rebuild what the hurricane took away,' said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. 'This was—and will be once again—a community resource that reflects Andrew Carnegie's deep belief that a library can be a place of self-improvement, learning and entrepreneurship. As the very fabric of neighborhood life, the Rosa Keller Library will stand as a sign that this community has returned.'
In addition to Carnegie Corporation's grant, the Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan is supported by a network of public and private partnerships under the auspices of the Clinton Global Initiative. These partners have joined together to offer resources including financial support and in-kind services, materials and professional expertise. John Needham, CGI's chief executive, commented, 'The Broadmoor rebuilding plan was introduced as a major commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting last September. We're inspired by the progress of the Broadmoor plan, which continues to gather significant momentum with this generous grant from Carnegie Corporation.'
The Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan has also attracted a range of other donors and partners including Mercy Corps, the National Cathedral School, St. Albans School, and the Laura Bush, Keller Family, RosaMary, and New Orleans Public Library foundations.
CH2M HILL, a global engineering, construction and consulting company, will provide a project manager and oversee LEED® certification for the new Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center. LEED certification is a 'green' building rating system established to promote sustainable design and construction practices, reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and improve occupant health and well-being.
'The Broadmoor neighborhood symbolizes the history and culture that makes New Orleans a uniquely valuable American city,' said Lee McIntire, president and Chief Operating Officer, CH2M HILL. 'This ground-breaking public-private partnership not only helps the residents of Broadmoor rebuild their community, but also provides a model for other affected neighborhoods to follow, and a case study in environmental sustainability, in Louisiana and around the world. CH2M HILL has long been an active member of the New Orleans community. We look forward to leveraging our design and construction experience to help transform the Rosa Keller Library into a venue for learning, culture and community interaction.'
Broadmoor, a community of nearly 3,000 homes, was developed in the late 1800s on marshland and sits near the center of the city. Considered beyond repair after spending two weeks under 10 feet of water, the neighborhood was designated by the Bring New Orleans Back Commission to be transformed into parks and open space.
'Eighteen months ago Broadmoor was designated as a large green dot on a planner's map, representing parks and open space,' said Broadmoor Improvement Association president LaToya Cantrell. 'With the Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan we've wrestled back the right to determine our own future. This neighborhood will not wait to rebuild, we're rebuilding now. We're committed as individuals and a community, and we're coming back.'
The Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan is premised on assurances by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that levees will be restored to pre-Katrina strength, lakefront floodgates will be installed and pumping stations will be restored.
Graduate students from the Kennedy School of Government relocated to New Orleans in 2006 to work in collaboration with the Broadmoor Improvement Association to draft the Broadmoor Redevelopment Plan. Kennedy School students and community members represented by the Broadmoor Association utilized their collective expertise in organization, civic engagement, urban planning and economic development to draft the Plan in response to the city’s request for a neighborhood viability report.
'In today's world, the local is global,' said Douglas Ahlers, a New Orleans native and a senior fellow at the Kennedy School's Belfer Center, who is spearheading Harvard's involvement. 'The collaboration in Broadmoor creates not only a model for other New Orleans neighborhoods, but also a model for creative response to other communities in times of crisis. The concrete skills that the Kennedy School students are bringing to share with the residents of Broadmoor, along with financial support from private industry, demonstrate the potential of new approaches to broad-based civic engagement and new forms of public-private partnership.'