other environmental centers in the gulf coast region

site at intersection of Florida Ave. and Caffin Ave.

ongoing project

In an effort to establish long-term sustainability, resilience and vitality for the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) teamed up with the Tulane City Center and the LSU School of Landscape Architecture to propose the L9 Environmental Learning + Research Center. CSED is an organization focused on community resiliency via food security, education of the returning population, and coastal sustainability. CSED aims to develop environmental education, centralize community leadership, organize community outreach, and connect visitors with their natural and built surroundings. The L9 Environmental Learning + Research Center’s main goal is to capture the attention and imagination of the local and extended population, fostering civic engagement and becoming a regional destination as well as an economic incubator for the neighborhood in the process of recovery. 

The L9 Center is defined by a multi-component site strategy including education, indoor and outdoor community events and exposure to natural systems and contextual ecologies. It is designed to enable implementation of various programmatic pieces over time:

Phase 1 includes design and construction of a pavilion and interactive landscape that can serve as a teaching tool for water management & native planting while accommodating other CSED initiatives with an outdoor classroom, kayak storage for the adjacent Bayou, and other features.  This was completed as a TCC|Build studio over the Spring 2015 semester, by a team of students under the leadership of Tom Holloman.

Phase 2 features the placement of a USGBC sponsored and pre-fabricated modular classroom on the site, designed and built in collaboration with EskewDumezRipple.

Phase 3 envisions a pedestrian link from the building to Bayou Bienvenue, stretching across existing infrastructural boundaries and allowing for seamless transition from built to natural environment. At the end of the pedestrian link a floating dock areaenables study of local ecologies and engagement in recreational activities.

Phase 4 includes construction of a more permanent Learning + Research Center, a linear structure parallel to Florida Avenue housing a variety of different community oriented programs. The building provides access to the rest of the site, where a wetland demonstration and education garden offers direct access to local ecologies at the micro scale while demonstrating water capture and reuse. The Phase 2 modular classroom will be connected through a large shading roof structure framing a generous outdoor event space.

Phase 5 envisions an ambitious 40-acre Wetlands Park to slow, store, and clean a significant percentage of Lower Ninth Ward storm water run-off before discharging it into Bayou Bienvenue, a measure that drastically increases the capacity of the overall neighborhood drainage system. The park, designed by the LSU School of Landscape Architecture, is intended to function as an educational urban environment, providing a variety of recreational activities immersed in different habitats as well as a connecting trail system for bikers and pedestrians. A connective green path around the entire bayou will provide a valuable public amenity, linking the Learning and Research Center to the surrounding natural context

Overall the L9 Environmental Learning Center is designed to promote education, research and outreach to immediate and extended communities, furthering resilience and resource preservation as it strives to become an economic driver in the neighborhood as part of the continuing recovery effort. 

Project Lead

Nick Jenisch
Cordula Roser Gray

Project Team

Jenga Mwendo
Sam Naylor
Matt Skoda


The Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development (CSED) is creating an Environmental Learning & Research Center along Florida Ave. near the intersection of Caffin.  The site will allow CSED to bolster its mission by hosting educational workshops and environmental research.

CSED has partnered with the Tulane City Center to build Phase 1 of the project.  Focused on creating an interactive landscape alongside a pavilion, students and faculty worked for 12 weeks to complete the design/build process as part of the Spring 2015 Engage.Design.Build Studio. The site is now ready to host educational programming, including water management demonstrations and native planting and serves as the launch point for bayou kayak tours.

Phase 2 will include the placement of an already-completed modular classroom.  Designed by Eskew/Dumez/Ripple in partnership with the US Green Building Council, the classroom features sustainable materials and demonstrates water collection. The classroom will be placed on site during Phase 2, once its foundation is complete.

Professional photos by Michael Wong.  

Project Leads

Tom Holloman

TCC Support

Emilie Taylor
Nick Jenisch
John Coyle


Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development (CSED)

Special thanks to 

Walter Zehner
Dash Lumber

Project Team

Marielle Asenjo
Andrew Balfe
James Ball
Lolade Frankel
Lindsay Girardeau
Zoe Grosshandler
Alec Herskowitz
Logan Leggett
Samuel Naylor
Scott Mikawa
Gustavo Rodas
Melinda Telford
Seth Voiron