School of Architecture students working in Haiti

Graduate students from the School of Architecture have traveled to Haiti for an eight week trip led by Jim Lutz (Architecture), lecturer and co-director of the Master of Science in Architecture, Sustainable Design track. Working with Architecture for Humanity, students will design two prototype schools expected to be constructed this summer.

Their goal is to complete site analysis and meet with community members about the continued operation and maintenance of the facility post construction. Students will also document their design process for presentation to potential donors. In addition to design activities, student curriculum will include a seminar on Haitian vernacular architecture taught by Sabine Malebranche and Marc Roger, faculty of the now destroyed Haiti State University.

The University of Minnesota will have the only School of Architecture in the United States to set up a full eight week curriculum entirely based in Haiti. Lutz says the two month presence in Haiti is vital because "we just don't want to parachute a design solution into Haiti. We want to be sure that whatever we come up with will be something our clients are enthusiastic about--that they have buy-in and will use it and maintain it and love it long after we're gone. That's really sustainable architecture." While in Haiti, the University of Minnesota contingent will present images and writing about their experiences in an online blog, UMN in Haiti.

Critical to the design effort was a research seminar taught by Assistant Professor John Comazzi (Architecture) during the first half of spring semester in Minneapolis. The seminar gathered information on Haiti from climate to building materials and standards for school buildings. Comazzi's research can be found online at UMN Design 4 Haiti.

The Haitian program is part of a larger effort by the School of Architecture and the College of Design's Center for Sustainable Building Research (CSBR) to develop expertise in assisting recovery from natural disasters. John Carmody (CSBR) has been working with the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee (ARC) to identify opportunities to leverage expertise of the College of Design and CSBR. "What we bring to projects like this is our expertise and interest in doing cutting-edge sustainable development" said Carmody. "There should be an opportunity to do some useful things. The situation is so desperate; I've never seen anything like it."

Graduate architecture students working in Haiti include: Kaitlin Schalow, Marshfield, WI; Amanda Pederson, Minneapolis, MN; Brent Suski, Elk River, MN; Cody Stadler, Charlotte, NC; Emerson Stepp, Beecher City, IL; and Abby (Meuser) Kurlinkus, Rockford, IL.