28 Aug Reflections: Ten Years
When you walk through the threshold of our downtown New Orleans office, you will be greeted by bright red partitions boasting our namesake: AOS. To the right you will see our receptionist and a handful of awards we have received over the past decade. AOS is always honored when we are recognized for our efforts throughout the community and the gulf coast region, but there is one award that shines a bit brighter than the rest. Upon a handmade silver plate, Whitney National Bank honors AOS with an achievement in Vendor Excellence. It is dated August 29, 2005. For those of you reading this in New Orleans, you know this date very well. With each passing year, we allow ourselves to reflect less and less upon what Hurricane Katrina took from us, and more on what we have taken from her.
After hearing the stories from a few of our team members in the New Orleans office, feelings of hope were in abundance upon returning to the city in 2005. Yes, the landscape was devastated, but simply arriving to a place they called home (and still do) was enough to keep their bigger obstacles at bay. The National Guard arrived at some homes before their owners did. Schools began to open their doors to children who were excited to see a familiar face after being scattered across the country. These were telltale signs that the city would bounce back—even if that bounce occurred in slow motion.
It has been ten years since Mother Nature picked us up and shook us around. Seeing the influx of young professionals moving to the city and becoming a part of the architecture and design community in New Orleans is a testament to the great revitalization our area has experienced. Traveling along Canal Street is especially moving for those of us here who witnessed the plight that Katrina brought because it gave our industry the ultimate challenge. She forced us to question our purpose: “What is important to our people? What keeps those individuals coming back?” As we attended the opening of the Orpheum Theater last night, it was abundantly clear: the culture. The Orpheum, Saenger, New Orleans Jazz Market, Contemporary Arts Center, YAYA—institutions like these allow artists to come into the city, display their craft and plant their seed. Helping the city persevere is rooted in our noble purpose and we believe wholeheartedly in nurturing the seeds that grow our city into a thriving center for artistic and cultural growth.