Gulf Coast Design Studio director, Mississippi AIA discuss lessons from Hurricane Katrina

August 21st, 2015 Comments Off on Gulf Coast Design Studio director, Mississippi AIA discuss lessons from Hurricane Katrina

AIA Architect: Lessons from Katrina

Seven Gulf Coast-area architects speak about what they’ve learned in the decade since the hurricane

By Scott Frank

To coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we reached out to a cross-section of architects for their first-hand and varied insights on any positive developments in terms of design approaches, public policy changes, client attitudes, and still-remaining gaps and vulnerabilities for the Gulf Coast region.

Based on what has been learned in the years following Hurricane Katrina, what are the most important considerations for communities in disaster-prone areas?

Mark Ripple, AIA: In New Orleans, we have spent the last century living under the delusional idea that we could keep pumping our city dry, building higher and higher floodwalls, and that ultimately our engineering acumen would keep us safe. We ignored basic principles which were clearly understood by our urban forerunners of the 18th and 19th centuries—that flexible, adaptable design approaches which embrace and engage our environment is the optimum long-term approach.

Allison H. Anderson, FAIA: Communities need to accept that an event is not a once-in-a-lifetime event and plan for the next one—one that will be stronger and more damaging to life and property. If they understood that there was a 10-year timeline, and that they had 10 years to prepare for the next storm, it would have changed the recovery substantially.

David Perkes, AIA: When disasters occur, it is almost automatic that FEMA will expand its flood zones. This catches homeowners off-guard and presents real challenges from insurance and building code standpoints if they decide they want some design elements to better protect their home against future storms. The change in flood zones actually changes the entire notion of being a homeowner, where their residence can go instantly from being an asset to a financial liability.

Ann Somers, AIA: To have a delineated plan in place for evacuation, and a plan in place for those that do not leave in time but need shelter; then have contacts with all the groups that can help after a disaster, so cleanup and getting home- and business-owners back as soon as possible to start re-building. A lot of structures were further damaged following Katrina because they had no cleanup effort until long after the storm.

Judith Kinnard, FAIA: The loss of life and property is typically the result of bad policies and decisions by the public and private sectors. Disaster events are often predictable; they can and must be managed in advance.

Have you noticed any positive changes in design approaches, government agency protocols, and/or public awareness? If so, what are the most compelling?

Steve Maher, AIA: After Katrina, the insurance companies took a big hit and the Louisiana State Legislature had to respond quickly in order to convince insurance companies to stay in the state. TheLouisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council was founded, and [it] established wind-design requirements based on certain areas of the state. These increased wind-design standards have proved to be prudent, as shown by how newer buildings fared in light of hurricanes Gustav [2008] and Isaac [2012].

Perkes: Almost immediately, the [Mississippi] governor’s office changed the policy regarding casinos in Biloxi that had been built and floating in the water. Not only did it get these structures out of the Gulf of Mexico and harm’s way, but they are now far better integrated into the urban fabric and a more natural part of the community. Mississippi is also leading the country with programs through the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety that provides financial incentives to design and build beyond code. A $500 spend when fortifying a roof can result in a 20 percent insurance reduction. At the federal level, the Department of Homeland Security is exploring a “Resilient Star” standard, which would make a big difference to advancing fortified building.

Kinnard: There is a fundamentally different approach to the way we think about the ground and the landscape. Designers are using many creative strategies to link raised building levels to public streets and sidewalks. The city’s longstanding approach to stormwater pumping has, unfortunately, increased the risk of flooding and property damage from land subsidence. Policies are changing, however, and our recently adopted Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance requires most projects to retain a significant quantity of rainfall on-site while including landscape to mitigate the heat-island effect and sheltering pedestrians from the sun.

J. Scott Eddy, AIA: Adaptability, being able to change based on immediate needs or circumstances; and diversity, planning to reduce the risk of loss of any one type of service/utility within a city/town/municipality due to a single event. In Collins, Miss., there were underground gasoline storage tanks. So gas was available, but due to Katrina there was no power to pump it.

Anderson: The level of familiarity with design, a result of charrettes, has given citizens a new language with which to demand change. Although recovery didn’t happen exactly as envisioned, residents understand the value of walkability, mixed uses, historic preservation, and green spaces. Now, because of the strong community engagement, these are the people and groups that are empowered to make things happen.

How have general public and architecture client attitudes to resilient design approaches evolved in recent years?

Anderson: After Katrina, there was so much confusion about the base flood elevations that many people rushed to rebuild at their previous elevation the same footprint they lost. Many of these rapid rebuilders suffered additional damage from Isaac and Gustav. Because of these recent storms, and changes to the flood insurance subsidies, they are dismayed to discover the price tag that accompanies this decision. There will always be the holdouts that say, “I want what I had before the storm,” but we need to share this message: It comes at a higher cost.

Eddy: Based on the impact of Katrina, I’ve seen more client requests for diversity in building systems to increase redundancy, and requests for more proactive planning to address the “what if this or that happens?” Still very much a cost consideration, but it is being talked about.

Ripple: The implementation of resilient practices has been no different. People may not understand how the city works, but we recognize its failures and shortcomings more than ever in the 10 years following the storm. Resilient design has been a way to bridge those shortcomings, by keeping communities in place and intact while preparing them with an appropriate architectural response, to confront a significant disaster or emergency and pick up the pieces thereafter.

If you had a magic wand to make one change from an official policy or regulatory standpoint, what would it be?

Anderson: No “grandfathered” structures: If there have been repetitive losses, people must relocate away from unsafe sites. Allow higher densities on safer ground to receive these housing units.

Maher: We have to make coastal conservation a top priority at the local, state, and especially the federal level. The Gulf Coast is our first line of protection against hurricanes, and we’re losing an area the size of a football field every hour! The coast has to be preserved in order to protect our communities.

Eddy: Within the past few years, Mississippi has adopted a statewide building code, but it contains language which allows municipalities to opt out. I would like to see a mandatory statewide building code as a means of establishing a minimum standard of design and construction regardless of where you are located in the state.

Ripple: To require every Corps of Engineers capital project to include robust involvement by architects. It is quite dismaying to see the massive new flood protection work being executed without any urban design or aesthetic considerations. One need look no further than the Netherlands to see that urban-scaled infrastructure projects can be beautiful as well.

Perkes: What has been frustrating is that if a family wants to relocate to a safer area following a disaster there is not an equitable way for families to be bought out. The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs are extremely complicated—it’s like they almost discourage families to seek a relocation buyout option by making the application process so cumbersome. There needs to be some readymade programs that are user-friendly and make it economically feasible for families to have their homes bought out at fair and reasonable prices.Kinnard: I would still like to see higher-density development on higher ground as a prudent strategy, without forcing residents out of the lower areas.Somers: That is easy: a statewide building code.

  • Allison H. Anderson, FAIA, unabridged Architecture, Bay St. Louis, Miss.
  • J. Scott Eddy, AIA, Barlow•Eddy•Jenkins, P.A., Jackson, Miss.
  • Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Professor of Architecture and Harvey-Wadsworth Chair of Landscape Urbanism, Tulane University
  • Steve Maher, AIA, Ritter Maher Architects, Baton Rouge, La.; Member of AIA Strategic Council, Regional Representative, Gulf States
  • David Perkes, AIA, MSU Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, Biloxi, Miss.
  • Mark Ripple, AIA, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans
  • Ann Somers, AIA, Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, Jackson, Miss. (MSU School of Architecture: BARC Dec1981)

Gulf Coast Community Design Studio receives environmental stewardship award

July 31st, 2015 Comments Off on Gulf Coast Community Design Studio receives environmental stewardship award

1st Place Civic NonProfit v2 copy

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a research center at Mississippi State University, was recently honored with a First Place 2015 Gulf Guardian award.  The awards ceremony was held today at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The awards, sponsored by a partnership of the Gulf of Mexico Program, are to recognize environmental stewardship in the five Gulf Coast states.

“This is the 13th year of the Gulf Guardian Awards, and I am proud to say that each year the winners in all categories have represented the very best of environmental accomplishments in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Diane Altsman, chief of staff for the Gulf of Mexico Program. “The Gulf of Mexico Program partnership works to improve the environmental health of the Gulf, and the Gulf Guardian Awards is an important way for us to recognize these valuable efforts.”

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio – one of two research centers in MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design – received the award in the Civic/Nonprofit category for their Bayou Auguste Restoration project. First place was awarded this year in six other categories to groups also taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. See the full list of 2015 winners.

“Mississippi State University is honored to be recognized for the Bayou August restoration project — one of many of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio’s efforts under David Perkes’ leadership to guard the resources of the Gulf Coast for present and future generations,” said Associate Dean for the College of Architecture, Art and Design Greg G. Hall, Ph.D.

The Bayou Auguste Restoration project implemented a community plan for part of East Biloxi, a historically underserved community devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio’s design team secured multiple grants for the project and led a partnership with the city of Biloxi, the Biloxi Housing Authority, the Biloxi Public School District and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

Volunteers contributed over 2,800 hours of service to help the team remove debris and repair the bayou’s wetland habitat by constructing a neighborhood wetland park.

The local community and students were also engaged in the project through educational programs that focused on ways to improve the bayou’s important functions of restoring and improving the nursery habitat for fish and shrimp, essential to the local economy; reducing pollution and debris entering the ocean through the integrated bayou and stormwater system; and creating a marshland to contain floodwater from extreme storm events.

The first Gulf Guardian Award winners were recognized in 2000. Each year since, first–, second–, and third–place awards have been given in seven categories: Business, Civic/Non-Profit Organization, Partnerships, Youth/Education, Individual, Government and Bi-National.

Read the story on the Texas Environmental News site.

Read more on MSU’s website.

CAAD research center selected as Architects Foundation Regional Resilience Design Studio

May 26th, 2015 Comments Off on CAAD research center selected as Architects Foundation Regional Resilience Design Studio

(Via the National American Institute of Architects’ release)

The AIA Foundation, now called the Architects Foundation, recently announced two more Regional Resilience Design Studios as part of its ongoing National Resilience Initiative, which aims to create a network of Regional Resilience Design Studios across the country.

The two new studios are Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, part of the School of Architecture in the College of Architecture, Art and Design; and the University of Arkansas’ Community Design Center at the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

“These two new studios, based on the Gulf Coast and in tornado-prone Arkansas, are crucial to our creating a national network of resilience design experts who can help communities become resilient and prepare both for disasters and the effects of climate change,” said Sherry-Lea Bloodworth-Botop, Executive Director of the Architects Foundation.

Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, located in Biloxi, Mississippi, was created to respond to Hurricane Katrina and has evolved from disaster recovery to long-term efforts of resilience. The design studio has a full-time staff of planners, architects and landscape architects and works in collaboration with many municipal and community organizations on projects that address mitigation and adaption of households and communities facing hurricane risks, the economic challenges of living in expanded flood zones, and coastal environments threatened by increased development and sea level rise. The design studio’s work includes fortified and flood-proof building design, community engaged storm water and flood-resistant landscapes, low impact land-use in watershed planning, and regional information and cooperation.

“The challenge to transform our cities to be more resilient for extreme events should be seen as an opportunity to make our cities better places to live from day to day,” said David Perkes, Director, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. “The increasing public awareness of risk is an opportunity for all of us to make stronger and more livable cities.”

First announced at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the NRI is a partnership that also includes the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative and others that seek to build a network of community-and university-based design studios dedicated to sharing best practices about how to help communities establish built environments that are more prepared for disasters and more resilient following shocks and stresses.

In 2014, the Foundation announced the first Regional Resilience Design Studio at the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Center for Resilient Design in Newark, N.J. The program was kicked-off with an initial $250,000 social impact investment by Benjamin Moore & Co.

“Having the American Institute of Architects name the Gulf Coast Community Design  Studio as a nationally-recognized Regional Resilience Center is quite an honor for the School of Architecture,” said F.L. Crane Endowed Professor and Director Michael Berk. “It truly speaks of the amazing outreach and seminal research which the GCCDS has been conducting over the past decade in the wake of Katrina. This designation acknowledges their leadership as an international ‘think-tank’  in disaster-resilient matters.”

About the Architects Foundation
The American Institute of Architects Foundation, now called the Architects Foundation, advances excellence in design for the benefit of the public.  As a nonprofit philanthropic extension of the American Institute of Architects, the Architects Foundation is the consummate voice and advocate for architecture and design in America.  The Architects Foundation is dedicated to the belief that good design is good for all and plays an essential role in transforming lives and building a better world.

CAAD research center provides fresh prospective at state conference

April 13th, 2015 Comments Off on CAAD research center provides fresh prospective at state conference

Johnson

Johnson

Kelsey Johnson, planner with MSU’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, was asked to present at the 2015 Mississippi Water Resources Conference in Jackson on April 7.

The Design Studio – one of two research centers in the College of Architecture, Art and Design – was able to bring a fresh perspective to the conference, which has a heavy science focus.

Johnson presented on the significant role of education and outreach during the development of a watershed implementation plan.  Since the end of 2013, the Design Studio has been facilitating the development of a watershed implementation plan for Rotten Bayou Watershed in Hancock and Harrison Counties.

The presentation was titled “Improving Water Quality through Watershed Planning, Design & Innovative Outreach Activities.”  Strategies presented included working with nontraditional partners such as a churches, libraries, golf courses and an educational puppet show; utilizing social media and raffles to make participation appealing and accessible; and leveraging funding from NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico B-WET Program to connect students at a local elementary school to the watershed planning work.

CAAD research center director to present at Pecha Kucha Biloxi

March 30th, 2015 Comments Off on CAAD research center director to present at Pecha Kucha Biloxi

perkes

David Perkes, AIA, will present as part of the first spring Pecha Kucha Biloxi event.

This year’s theme is based on MAPPartner, the Ohr Museum’s ongoing Katrina+10 series of exhibits and events. 

On April 2, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art, coast architects will discuss how Katrina impacted the local architecture and showcase their successful efforts to restore it.

“How Katrina Changed Our Look” presenters include:

·         Holly Gibbs – Hands on Mississippi
·         Kevin O’Brien – Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art
·         Sonja Gillis – Lyn Meadows Discovery Center
·         Steve Phillips – WLOX
·         John Anderson, AIA – unabridged Architecture
·         Corey Christy – Walter Anderson Museum
·         Dr. Janice Johnson – Biloxi Public Schools
·         Allison Anderson, FAIA – unabridged Architecture
·         Windy Swetman – Swetman Security
·         Christene Brice – Harrison County Election Commission District 4
·         David Perkes, AIA – Gulf Coast Community Design Studio
·         Romy Simpson – Negrotto’s Gallery

For more information about the presenters, check out Pecha Kucha Biloxis’ Facebook page.

Also, MAPPartner Marvin Windows and Doors is excited to announce the return of the prestigious Marvin Architects Challenge celebrating acclaimed design and breathtaking architecture. This challenge gives architects the chance to submit their best work that displays architectural creativity and features Marvin Windows and Doors and see how they measure up against their peers.  It’s a yearly chance to show off their most award-worthy project and get the attention they deserve. This year, there are new judging categories as well as an extended award structure, which gives even more opportunities for recognition.

For more information on the program, please visit Marvin Architects Challenge 2015.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world.

CAAD research centers receive AIA/MS 2014 Design Awards

November 6th, 2014 Comments Off on CAAD research centers receive AIA/MS 2014 Design Awards

web 24-Women in Construction Training Center copy

Women in Construction Training Center (GCCDS)

23- Baptist Town_Disk Three_Image

Baptist Town Master Plan (CSTC)

On October 16, the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Mississippi) hosted a Design Awards Celebration in Jackson to honor recipients of its Design Awards and Member Awards, as well as newly licensed architects, landscape architects and interior designers in the state.

The two research centers housed in Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design both were honored at the event.

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) received an Honor Award in the Architecture/New Construction category for the Women in Construction Training Center for the Moore Community House.

Women in Construction is an organization that trains and assists women to get jobs in construction-related fields. Over the years Women in Construction has been a partner with the GCCDS on many projects for homeowners and for the community.

David Perkes, director of the GCCDS said, “It was especially rewarding to work with them to create a work space that embodies their ‘can-do’ culture. Building the project was as important as getting it built, and the completed building is a testament of the capability of the women students, staff and volunteers.”

The Carl Small Town Center (CSTC) received a Citation Award in the Master Planning and Urban Design Category for the Baptist Town Master Plan for the Greenwood Leflore Carroll Economic Development Foundation.

“The award for the Baptist Town Master Plan reaffirms the longterm effort the CSTC has made in its commitment to Greenwood and the Baptist Town neighborhood,” said Leah Kemp, assistant director of the CSTC. “We are starting to see these master plan elements come to life as recent housing has been installed and the community center is under renovation.”

“It is a testament to the School of Architecture’s commitment to ‘community design’ and ‘social justice’ when our research centers are recognized for their amazing outreach work with Design Awards from the AIA Mississippi Chapter,” said Michael Berk, F.L. Crane Professor and director of the School of Architecture. “The work that our centers produce is nothing short of heroic — and the impacts to the communities will be felt for generations.”

The AIA Mississippi Design Awards program is part of the annual program of events, Mississippi Celebrates Architecture, presented by AIA Mississippi. The goal of the program, which also features an Educational Symposium and a Public Outreach and Exhibition, is to promote and celebrate the role of architecture in Mississippi’s culture. The Design Awards program further seeks to encourages design excellence and elevate the quality of architecture and design in the state by recognizing and honoring members’ works of distinction.

Read the story on the MSU website.

 

Several alumni and friends of the School of Architecture were also honored at the event. See the full list of AIA/MS 2014 Design Awards below.

Honor Awards:
Albert & Associates Architects, P.A.
(Renovation/Restoration)
Charnley-Norwood House Restoration
Mississippi Dept. of Marine Resources
& Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History

• Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons Architects & Engineers, PA
(Architecture/New Construction)
Puckett Machinery Headquarters
Hastings Puckett

• Gulf Coast Community Design Studio
(Architecture/New Construction)
Women in Construction Training Center
Moore Community House

Merit Awards:
JBHM Architecture
(Architecture/New Construction)
Tupelo Aquatics Center
City of Tupelo

• Duvall Decker Architects, P.A.
(Renovation/Restoration)
James H. White Library Renovation
Mississippi Valley State University
Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management
State of Mississippi

• Duvall Decker Architects, P.A.
(Renovation/Restoration)
Mississippi Dept. of Information Technology Services
Cooperative Data Center
Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management
State of Mississippi

Citations:
• unabridged Architecture

(Architecture/New Construction)
Waveland Business Center
City of Waveland

• WFT Architects, P.A.
(Renovation/Restoration)
Rehabilitation of the Medgar Evers House Museum
Tougaloo College

• WFT Architects, P.A.
(Renovation/Restoration)
Exterior Rehabilitation of the John W. Boddie House
(The Mansion), Phase II
Tougaloo College

• Carl Small Town Center
(Master Planning Urban Design)
Baptist Town Master Plan
Greenwood Leflore Carroll Economic Development Foundation

• Belinda Stewart Architects, P.A.
(Architecture/New Construction)
Delta Blues Museum Muddy Waters Addition
Delta Blues Museum

Spring Collaborative Studio holds midterm review

March 6th, 2014 Comments Off on Spring Collaborative Studio holds midterm review

Photo by Alexis Gregory

Photo by Alexis Gregory

 

By Alexis Gregory

The Third-Year Collaborative Studio conducted their midterm presentation on the design of a new fire station in Caledonia for the Lowndes County Volunteer Fire Department on Wed., March 5, in the Michael Fazio Jury Room in Giles Hall.

Twelve student teams composed of students from the School of Architecture and the Building Construction Science Program presented their work to a collection of volunteer fire fighters, professional architects, professional constructors and faculty from both departments.

Guest reviewers included John Beard and Dale Riser from Beard + Riser Architects in Greenwood; Ryan Florreich from JBHM Architects PA in Jackson;  Michael Grote from the MSU Gulf Coast Community Design Studio; Dan Whatley, construction administrator at MSU; and Tim Younger and Sammy Fondren from the Lowndes County Fire Service.

The Third-Year Collaborative Studio will present their final work on Wed., April 30 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the Giles Hall Gallery.

Architecture students, faculty, alumni to help transform school into naval museum

January 9th, 2014 Comments Off on Architecture students, faculty, alumni to help transform school into naval museum

MSU architecture assistant professor Jacob Gines (left) discusses the project as David Perkes, director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, looks on. (photo from Mississippi Press website)

MSU architecture assistant professor Jacob Gines (left) discusses the project as David Perkes, director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, looks on. (photo from Mississippi Press website)

Watch the video on WLOX.

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – The Mississippi Maritime Museum Group is getting some help transforming the old Pascagoula High School into a naval history museum.

The old building may not look like a museum now, but that will soon change. Mississippi State University architecture professors and students have teamed up with Mississippi Maritime Museum Group to breathe new life into this place.

“We are having the beginning of a Charette from Mississippi State School of Architecture,” said Museum Vice President Jack Hoover.

“The Charette means that they are coming in here and they will study this building as far as the best usage, plans and future development.”

During the two day trip, the MSU group will meet with maritime museum and city leaders to get insight on what they want to see developed here.

“It is a combination of looking at the kind of museum and what they need and also make into a great project for students,” said David Perkes, Director of MSU’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio.

Museum board member Robert Hardy also has some suggestions for the naval center.

“I think our primary focus is to build this museum as an educational tool and opportunity to gather and preserve artifacts,” said Hardy.

“We have a 300 year heritage going back to 1699 with maritime development on the Pascagoula River. Today, 85 percent of U.S. Navy warships that are active in the Navy were built here at Ingalls.”

MSU student John Taylor Schaffhauser of Canton said creating an action plan should be easy because there is potential in every room of this structure.

“It has some really good bones and when I walked in, I was immediately amazed how well lit it is. The natural light pouring in, it is feels how school should feel. The walls are thick and they’re honest. Yes, it really has some great potential,” Schaffhauser said.

Thursday afternoon, the MSU staff and students will present and discuss the details and visuals for the new Museum with city leaders and the maritime board. The meeting will be held at the Chamber of Commerce building in Pascagoula.

Read the story and see the video by the Mississippi Press.

Architectural processes addressed in report by architecture professor, others

October 28th, 2013 Comments Off on Architectural processes addressed in report by architecture professor, others

David Perkes

David Perkes

By Leah Barbour | MSU Office of Public Affairs

The more they get together, the happier architects and their public-service clients will be, according a new report co-written by a Mississippi State University architecture professor.

David Perkes, director of MSU’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, is one of four authors who recently released “Wisdom from the Field: Public Interest Architecture in Practice: A Guide to Public Interest Practices in Architecture.” The study is a result of a $100,000 Latrobe Prize awarded to the group by the American Institute of Architects in 2011.

Based on detailed interviews with 50 organizations from Washington state to Rhode Island, Perkes’ section, “The Partners’ Perspective,” highlights ways architects can apply public interest practices to achieve the practical needs of organizations.

Though geared toward architects, interns and students, the full report also may be beneficial to community developers, municipal officers, funding entities and non-profit organizations, among others, Perkes said.

“Public interest work doesn’t happen without partners, and I chose to develop the partner section of the report because I knew that I could highlight the value of collaboration,” he said. “I have a good understanding of the importance of partners from our own work in the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, as well as work the College of Architecture, Art and Design has been doing for years in the Carl Small Town Center.”

Established in response to 2005’s massive Hurricane Katrina, MSU’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is a professional service and outreach program of the university’s College of Architecture, Art and Design. It, like the Carl Small Town Center, provides design services, landscape and planning assistance, and educational opportunities and research to organizations and communities. For more, visit http://www.gccds.org and http://carlsmalltowncenter.org.

Perkes said his research suggests six major consistencies that foster positive working relationships between architects and public service organizations. They include practical knowledge of the partner’s work, design expertise that advances the partner’s mission, a flexible practice approach, community design skills, effective collaboration and community commitment.

“I identified some practical skills that an architect can focus on to be successful at public interest work, and I certainly learned a lot and found specific examples that I have been able to use to teach architects about how they can be more useful to partners,” he said.

In putting together so comprehensive a document, Perkes credited the expertise and hard work of his three colleagues. They include Roberta M. Feldman, University of Illinois at Chicago professor; Sergio Palleroni, senior fellow for the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University in Oregon; and Bryan Bell, executive director of the Raleigh, N.C-based Design Corps.

Perkes also expressed appreciation for support provided by the AIA, and the research team continues working together to create other publications for the national organization.

“We have hundreds of hours of interview information, of which we were only able to use a fraction in the AIA report,” Perkes said. “As a team, we see our research as the beginning of an archive of case studies of key practices that are setting the direction of public interest work.

“We expect to continue to take a role to promote and educate around this topic,” he said.

The full report is available at www.publicinterestdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Wisdom-from-the-Field.pdf.

GCCDS planner discusses Katrina recovery on MPB

August 29th, 2013 Comments Off on GCCDS planner discusses Katrina recovery on MPB

Hurricane Katrina damage in Gulfport, Mississippi. Photo from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hurricane_katrina_damage_gulfport_mississippi.jpg

Hurricane Katrina damage in Gulfport, Mississippi. Photo from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hurricane_katrina_damage_gulfport_mississippi.jpg

Today is the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The monster storm caused $90 billion of damage throughout Mississippi. Some 52,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged on the Gulf Coast on that single day in 2005. Eight years later, signs of recovery in Mississippi are apparent from repaired and rebuilt schools to museums and homes.

Cheryl Wintzel describes some of the services offered to the homeless here at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi.

Wintzel and her fiancé are homeless now, living in their car and visit the mission four times a week for showers, food, and to look for work on the computers here. This wasn’t how she lived before Hurricane Katrina upended the economy on the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Unemployment leaped to 22 percent the month after the storm. It’s now about 8 percent, and Wintzel is still struggling to find steady work.

“It’s just like I can’t get a toe-hold, all that’s kind of at a standstill, it’s gone downhill financially and here I am,” says Wintzel.

Jill Cartledge is  a caseworker at Back Bay Mission. She says disruptions in jobs on top of unexpected rebuilding and moving costs after Katrina has led to a cycle of debt for many families on the Gulf Coast.

“Some of my families have just never gotten out from under since Katrina, and then there was the BP oil spill and many stuggled from that.  So there have just be so many things that have happened to the people on the Gulf Coast, some are Gulf Coast only oriented and others are national like our economy,” says Cartledge.

More than $2 billion dollars has been spent to restore and rebuild housing in Mississippi since Katrina. Most local community leaders agree there is now plenty of housing on the coast, with vacancy rates in the double-digits. But, they say, much of this housing isn’t affordable to the people who need it. Waiting lists for subsidized housing number in the thousands. But Cheryl Wintzel says it’s still a tough situation.

“Unless you can get in Section 8, if you can get in Biloxi housing based on your income, whatever it is, if you have to go out and pay full price on rent or a house payment, if you don’t have the money, the income coming in to pay it, you’re not going to be able to stay in it, you’re going to be right back out there, back and forth, homeless and in and unfortunately that is what has happened to me and my fiance,” continues Wintzel.

According to an analysis by the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, almost half of renters and a third of home owners on the coast are cost burdened – that is, they’re paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing.  Planner Kelsey Johnson says the question isn’t whether there’s as much housing now but whether the housing there is fits the coast’s current needs.

“If you probably look at the numbers, it’s probably pretty close, our housing has come back and we definitely have enough, I would say enough housing stock the question is, ‘Is it in the right place?’ and ‘Are people able to access that housing?’,” says Johnson.

Johnson says a number of factors have affected affordability: it costs more to build elevated homes, and homeowners insurance is expensive. But while wind premiums seem to have stabilized, Gulf Coast communities  are now facing the specter of skyrocketing flood insurance costs.

Diane Sager and her mother Bo are speaking to federal and state leaders, including the head of the national flood insurance program, while standing under their Henderson Point home. The house perches more than 18 feet above sea level. The Sagers built the home in 2008 at an elevation that they say was higher than even required at the time.

But new flood maps implemented the following year lifted the elevation requirement even higher. They’ve been grandfathered in for flood insurance, but a new law says they will now lose that grandfathering status the next time the area is mapped.

“I’m going from $500 to almost $7000 in flood insurance that’s totally out the wall it’s unbelievable, either grandfather us in because I did everything right so as a citizen I’m being punished for having done everything right, doesn’t make sense,” says Sager.

Diane’s parents, Bo and Jim, both in their 80s, are on fixed incomes. Bo tells the gathered officials that she’s had flood insurance since the 1970s and can’t imagine losing it.

“We need some kind of resolution so that we can rest better, at the age we’ve reached and we don’t rest because we don’t know what’s going to happen with this hurricane season,” says Bo.  “I never worried about hurricanes before, I’m used to hurricanes and I know how to avoid them and what to do but what happens now if we lose this with no insurance, I don’t know what we’ll do.”

Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott says the soaring flood insurance rates, which are already hitting second homes, could devastate beach communities like his, ruining property values.

“Wind coverage was bad, we knew that and all the people that are in the insurance business all said ‘If you can just go 8, 10, 12 years, it will settle down,’ so we live with that whether it does or not, you throw this flood in there, you just killed it, it’s over with,” says McDermott.

There are a number of efforts in Congress now to delay implementation of parts of the bill for one year, and Mississippi 4th District Congressman Steven Palazzo says he thinks there’s an appetite among lawmakers for finding a long-term solution as well.

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