Gulf Coast Community Design Studio director featured in Sun Herald

August 21st, 2015 Comments Off on Gulf Coast Community Design Studio director featured in Sun Herald

A better blueprint: Jackson architect’s post-Katrina studio helped homeowners rebuild

Architect’s post-Katrina studio helped homeowners rebuild

Gulf Coast Community Design Center (GCCDS) - Biloxi Katrina recovery architecture and landscape architecture - for Foundation Annual Report

David Perkes

When Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left thousands without homes, an architect from Jackson saw an opportunity to help residents rebuild homes they could be proud of.

David Perkes realized the need for architectural expertise in the aftermath of Katrina while he was working in Jackson at a Mississippi State University architectural outreach program.

“It was pretty obvious work was desperately needed on the Coast,” he said. “I was commuting from Jackson to Biloxi immediately to offer as much assistance as I could.”

After a few months, Perkes found an office in Biloxi and formally opened the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio.

“All we could do at the beginning was give homeowners a professional opinion,” he said. “We presented them with options so they wouldn’t feel hopeless.”

Perkes said he didn’t want to build houses just to get them up.

“I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and say we could have done better,” he said. “I was terrified of the houses being labeled as just another temporary Katrina house.”

Perkes quickly realized the best way to get homeowners to enjoy their houses was to get them involved in the design process.

“Most agencies present people with two or three floor plans,” he said. “We opened it up to endless possibilities.”

Homeowners were encouraged to build what they truly wanted and to use the opportunity to remedy any issues they had with their old homes.

“Wider bathrooms, handicap-accessible utilities, larger bedrooms, it was completely up to the person who would be living in it,” he said. “People fell in love with the finished product.”

To date, GCCDS has built 230 new homes and rehabilitated 100 others for residents all along the Coast.

“It’s encouraging to see,” he said. “Being so close to the recovery of this community is why we’re still here.”

Perkes and his studio have shifted their main focus from housing to landscape development.

“We’re a direct reflection of the community,” he said. “Everyone is moving from housing concerns to the environment.”

The studio, on Howard Avenue, has brought in specialists to help plan for better wetland habitats and irrigation systems.

“I guess if you really sum us up we just want what’s best for the people of the Gulf Coast,” he said.

“Fulfilling their interests and needs is what keeps us going.”

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,