After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the task of rebuilding a devastated city was far from easy. University of Kentucky lecturer Mike McKay felt the need to go and help with a task that was anything but easy: rebuilding the devastated city. McKay moved to Louisiana for two years to lead the architecture school’s Knoa Studio, a program that tasked studios to develop designs for neighborhoods, restaurants, and the city transit system.
The 1,000-square-foot pavilion was completed in 2009 as a volunteer structure and tool shed–though today its used far more by the public than initially anticipated. “The garden was wiped out after the storm,” McKay recalls. “There was nothing, zero. Volunteers came in and replanted everything.” Photo by Frank Doering.
McKay devised a modular system of arches that would define the open-air structure. Using the donated cypress and aluminum, he created six wall-and-roof modules and slid them closer together or further apart to accomodate the existing trees and roots. “Because there are so many trees on the site, we had to negotiate a system in the initial design phase,” McKay says. “When we were constructing the pavilion, if we hit a root, and we did, we could just move the modular without it affecting the overall design or construction.”