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  • Dylan Caleb Roth

Abandonment - Education project

Dylan Caleb Roth

Research Assistant

Coastal Sustainability Studio

B.ARCH Louisiana State University Candidate

Baton Rouge, Louisiana has a long history of racial segregation that has materialized into extreme disparities among divided communities within the city. Today, Baton Rouge is recognized as one of the most racially segregated cities where the majority of the BIPOC population has been systematically contained to the north while the white population continues to expand southward merging into neighboring parishes like Livingston and Ascension. The timeline observes the changes in demographics as they coincide with major political and economic events.

From this, I discovered that the integration of public schools was a major driving force for white flight in the ’80s and continuous till today. I used NHGIS data as another layer that shows the white population shifts between East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension, and West Baton Rouge Parishes. Again, you can see large amounts of the white population fleeing from the center of Baton Rouge as the black population expands outwards. And Simultaneously we see the white population increase in neighboring parishes such as Livingston and Ascension. As a result, East Baton Rouge Public Schools have suffered severe budget cuts and is 89% black while neighboring parishes are predominantly white with better funded and higher-rated schools.

As economic investment continued to move southward, areas that were once built up for heavy commercial use began to decay. Today streets like Florida and North Blvd are littered with abandoned buildings leftover from a forgotten period. The following map shows areas of abandonment, which correlate to poverty levels, along these two corridors. The area that I decided to focus on exists at an intersection point between predominantly black public schools and predominantly white private schools. Currently, it suffers from poor maintenance and lack of walkability. The proposal is intended to decentralize the current system of learning as abandonment takes a new life - a new educational hub with alternative programming - creating a network of interconnected bike and pedestrian pathways connecting the two communities.

The programming was chosen strategically to help address existing sociological/psychological issues that are a result of children growing up in systematic oppression. The programs expand beyond the CORE curriculum offered in the East Baton Rouge Public school system. These include activities that help young adults manage anxieties and frustrations that they face on a daily basis through physical, mental, and creative expression. They include but are not limited to: Boxing/Training Gym, Multimedia/Technology Lab, Artist Studios, Sculptural Studios. The project exists not as a cohesive linear thought but is imagined as a continuous development that progresses organically and adjusts depending on the immediate needs and desires of the community and children. This proposal follows the optimistic stance that it is our role as designers to help visualize an architecture that is inclusive for everyone.