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Zaha makes shortlist for New Orleans waterfront

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Zaha Hadid is the only British-based architect still in the running to transform a 7km-long riverbank plot in New Orleans - part of a multi-billion pound programme to rebuild the hurricane-hit city.

Back in September, the New Orleans Building Corporation (NOBC) invited some of the biggest names in world architecture to come up with ideas to turn the devastated east bank of the Mississippi River into an 'internationally prominent waterfront'.

In a bid to attract the globe's hottest talent, the NOBC memorably sent out an unusual pack of New Orleans-related goodies, including a box of pralines, a can of French Market coffee and 'Da Mayor in Your Pocket' - a gadget which played recordings of city mayor Ray Nagin's most memorable comments.

Among those on the corporation's wishlist were Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas and Rafael Viñoly.

However, of the Brits, only Hadid has made it into the final five.

The Pritzker-prize winner will team up with Baton Rouge-based Trahan Architects to battle it out against the likes of Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry, Mexicans TEN Arquitectos, and New York's Reiser + Umemoto.

The competition organisers want to create a '21st-century urban landscape' on the dockland site between Jackson Avenue and the Industrial Canal in the city - an area which was among the worst hit by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

At the centre of the 'vision' are proposals for a new 'uninterrupted and continuous linear green park' which would reconnect the city to the long-neglected riverfront.

As part of the brief, Hadid must also produce designs for a performance venue at the Louisa Street Wharf, a new hotel and two cruise ship terminals.

A winner is expected to be announced on 29 November.

by Richard Waite

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