Sydney Professor to head New Orleans recovery

12 December 2006

Ed Blakely, The University of Sydney's Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, has been appointed to head up the reconstruction of New Orleans.

Dubbed the "recovery Czar", Professor Blakely will lead what is expected to be a five-person office that will coordinate all the federal and local bodies involved in the recovery effort.

"We think he's the best in the world to help us through this recovery," said Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans.

For the past three years Professor Blakely has been a professor of urban, regional planning and policy in the University of Sydney's Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.

"There is no bigger job in urban planning in the world," said Professor Blakely. "This is a tremendous opportunity to assist the people of New Orleans.

"I also intend to broker opportunities for Australian business, the academy and the community to be involved in the recovery efforts."

Professor Blakely played a key part in the University of Sydney's recent successful bid to host Australia's new US Studies Centre. He said his latest role is an example of the sorts of exchanges that will increasingly be fostered by the University of Sydney as home to the new Centre.

"I hope to be an ambassador for the University and the launching of the US Studies Centre. There is a network of universities involved in the recovery of New Orleans that are also partners in the US Studies Centre - for example, Harvard, UCLA and Berkeley."

The University and the City of New Orleans have come to an agreement which will allow him to continue his teaching and research commitments with the University. The Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, with assistance from the City of New Orleans, has rearranged resources and key staff to allow Professor Blakely to carry out this important work.

"This appointment reflects upon the significant international contribution the university can play in major world affairs," said Professor Tom Kvan, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.

"Our staff and students will benefit from Ed's ongoing, hands-on experience in his areas of expertise - suburban economics, urban planning and recovery efforts."

Professor Blakely helped coordinate recovery efforts in New York City after September 11, and in California after fire and earthquake disasters. He was also appointed by then Premier Bob Carr to head up the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy, the NSW Government's 30-year plan for Sydney.

A native of California, Professor Blakely is recognised worldwide as one of the leading experts in urban and regional planning. He will continue to be involved in key research projects for the city of Sydney.

Professor Blakely is available for interview

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