The first and second URBANbuild houses. The concepts for both were derived from traditional New Orleans architectural styles, and both built by Tulane architecture students who’ve created a modern take on an old theme. The first was inspired by a typical “Shotgun”, the second on a classic “Camelback”.

Shotguns are long, thin houses with no corridors; just one room attached to the next as you move straight through the house. Sort of like a railroad apartment – a familiar set-up for us New Yorkers. Legend has it shotgun homes helped keep paramours away: just one shot fired through the front door could travel straight down the hallway into the bedroom!

Here’s [www.gnocdc.org] what sounds like a slightly more accurate historical explanation. Camelbacks are like Shotguns, but include a second story in the back, hence their hump-like appearance. They were built by occupants who wanted to increase their living space but avoid Mr. Tax Collector, who would come by demanding more money if you built a second story on a street edge.

The first house is owned by a friendly cop named Timothy. Now studying to become a nurse, he was a first-responder during Katrina, so while Rob and Michael were shooting exteriors of the house, he showed me slides of the rescue effort. Which made me weep. Highly professional behavior, I know.

Meanwhile, at the corner of Dryades and Sixth Streets, the second Tulane house is still vacant. Only one block away from the new build site, I guess it’s waiting for just the right buyer to come along.

I hope someone snags it while we’re here, and inspires other locals to consider a modern housing alternative. Every night on the ride down St. Charles Ave. back to the CBD (Central Business District) where we stay when we’re in our home away from home, the crew talks about the pros and cons of cultural change through architecture, especially in a city as steeped in tradition as New Orleans. Let’s just say that it’s a conversation with no end.

Rachel Clift