To kickoff the Spring 2020 semester, the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design will launch a new programmatic initiative called DEPART-MENT.

This new direction reimagines the exhibition and event space at 1725 Baronne Street into a launch pad for individual and collective journeys that propel us towards a more enriching, equitable, and connected world. Blurring the lines between academia, community, and design will open new pathways for the Small Center to expand on its 15-year body of work — building on existing partnerships to reach audiences previously out of its orbit. Our belief is that DEPART-MENT will create a nexus for new ideas, coalitions, and civic action on issues related to the built environment locally and beyond. This is another step towards a New Orleans where every resident feels empowered to shape the places they live, work and play. 

Join us for an opening reception on February 6, 2020 from 6-9pm at the Small Center (1725 Baronne St)! And be sure to follow us on social and check back here for a complete listing of Spring 2020 activities!

Project Dates

February 2020–Present


Each semester, DEPART-MENT will tackle a different theme that speaks to one of the pressing issues of our time; in Spring 2020, water serves as the anchor. Activations will include Water Isn’t A Game, an initiative of the Water Collaborative led by Jessica Dandridge, Executive Director; Living with Hurricanes, a Tulane School of Architecture Seminar led by Aron Chang, Adjunct Lecturer and Urban Designer; and waterlogged, a photography and mixed media exhibition curated by Jose Cotto, Collaborative Design Project Manager at the Small Center. By weaving together these multiple threads, DEPART-MENT will cultivate space for a more diverse and holistic perspective of the built environment that can inform our collective work moving forward.

Water Isn’t A Game is a technology and art innovative laboratory that seeks to explore how people learn and engage with stormwater management using games, technology, design thinking, and art.

Living With Hurricanes is a seminar focused on the redesign of the LA State Museum’s Living With Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond exhibition at the Presbytere in Jackson Square. Students will be developing prototypes of museum exhibit elements and conducting user testing of those prototypes throughout the semester.

waterlogged: portraits of a past and future new orleans is a mix media exhibition produced by Jose Cotto and students in the Small Center’s Public Interest Design seminar that explores our relationships with water in New Orleans to better understand our collective lived experiences and leverage our past to better shape our future built environments.

Why the name DEPART-MENT?

The name is a nod to the history of the building at 1725 Baronne Street that the Small Center calls home — like most of the buildings on the block, it was once part of the Kaufman’s Department Store. Additionally when we break the name down to its two parts, we’re left with the verb “depart” (to leave or deviate from an accepted, prescribed, or traditional course of action) and the suffix “-ment” (which denotes an action or resulting state, a product, or means). We believe this captures the spirit of what DEPART-MENT represents — a place where actions, ideas, and processes that challenge conventional wisdom and propel us towards a more enriching, equitable, and connected world can soar.


Water Collaborative x Plant Dat

Jessica Dandridge, Executive Director, Water Collabortive
Jenna deBoisblanc, Creative Coder, Plant Dat
Joanna Farley, Illustrator, Plant Dat
Jenny Wolff, Plant Expert, Plant Dat

Tulane School of Architecture

Aron Chang, Adjunct Lecturer, Tulane School of Architecture; Urban Designer

Students: Adrian Evans, Ryan Snyder, Zachary Braaten, David Rodriguez, Maddison Wells, Chewys Parra Paulino

Small Center

Jose Cotto, Collaborative Design Project Manager, Small Center; Adjunct Lecturer, Tulane School of Architecture

Students: Cece Callwood, Bianca Falanga, Jake Hesse, Erik Luthringshausen, Ben Racusin, Noam Saul, Sean Tichenor, Will Neild, Kayla Buffington, Kalyn Faller, Michael Heitz, Xioalan Lan, Chewys Parra Paulino, Andrew Porten, Shanelle Reese, Walid Shahin, Evan Warder

Team Members

Project Lead

  • Jose Cotto (Project Manager)


  • Ann Yoachim
  • Rashidah Williams
  • Emilie Taylor Welty
  • Nick Jenisch


  • Trapolin-Peer Architects