Even after hearing the administration's side of the story, I continue to disagree with the decision to demolish the building.
The administration doesn't seem to have a concrete plan for the future of the site that is clearly better than renovating the existing building - or even leaving the building sit, secured, for a few more years until money can be budgeted and repairs begun. However, I am somewhat unclear as to whether the administration would actually prefer to replace the building instead of demolishing it:
"FEMA usually gives demolition funding for Katrina damage," Jones said. "We are challenging this because we believe the building is more than 50 percent damaged. FEMA will generally replace the buildings more than 50 percent damaged."
While my inability to access the interior of the structure limits my perspective, the building does not in fact seem to be more than 50 percent damaged. And even if it was - and the school wins a long, drawn-out fight to show that it was damaged beyond 50% - the school should not use the FEMA funding to "replace" the building, but to rehabilitate it instead. The amount of money it would take to create a brand new comparable structure would likely be enough to renovate the present distinctive structure, saving the "charming" shell and creating a brand new, usable interior space.
Tomorrow is the final day to submit an online public comment to FEMA here.
*Also, just to clarify my second quote in the piece, I do recognize there are other buildings on campus from roughly the same time period, but none in anything close to the same architectural style.