This week in GCCDS we had a community meeting Monday night in Soria City and discussions with three folks from NC State University regarding a really interesting rating system for the Resilient Home Building program through one of the partners (CARRI) for the Expo we helped run back in March. Here's a video from the meeting that was featured on the local news with Jody and Britton doing their thing.
As for the rest of the week, a camel back addition, some server work reorganizing all my houses, and then Saturday, Caitlin comes to town for two whole weeks. August is shaping up to be pretty excellent.
We're going to get back to basics here just to get everyone up to speed. I'm going to be going out to San Francisco next week for the Association of Community Design/Planners Network joint conference entitled "Towards a Just Metropolis" and I'm hoping to welcome more people to the site and use it as a tool to produce material, gain knowledge and share experience with others in the field as well as disseminate some of the information and resources we may have at our disposal for people interested in looking to work in a subsidized practice or community design setting. Although we don't sit around listening to old-timey bluegrass here on the Gulf Coast, the video below of our Director, David Perkes is a great introduction to the work we do and the history the Studio.
Regarding San Francisco, here is the intro to the conference from the website:
"A conference for planners, designers, activists, policymakers and citizens dedicated to a just future for all human settlements.
This joint conference of Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), New Village Press, Planners Network (PN), Young Planners Network, Association for Community Design (ACD) and The Center for theLiving City merges the annual conferences of these national and international organizations, which have brought together progressive urbanists and innovative ideas for more than three decades. The June 2010 conference will unite planners, architects, designers, urban activists, educators, journalists, policymakers, academics, students and concerned citizens from diverse backgrounds across North America who share a passion for social, environmental and economic justice. All are committed to exchanging their experiences and visions for robust civic engagement, innovative planning and inclusive community building.
These same organizations coordinated joint national conferences in 2007 to address social justice and community-initiated rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina--a week-long event in multiple cities that connected grassroots partners with visiting urbanists.
Building on this experience, Toward a Just Metropolis brings us together under one tent again, this time together with numerous innovative and progressive organizations and agencies who call the San Francisco Bay Area home.
Toward a Just Metropolis will be hosted by the Department of City & Regional Planning and the College of Environmental Design (CED) at the University of California, Berkeley, under the leadership of new dean, Jennifer Wolch, herself a longtime advocate of just and sustainable cities. The College will be the site of many core conference activities, including classroom workshops and some plenary sessions. Mobile workshops, long a hallmark of Planners Network conferences, will take place throughout the region in cooperation with local community-based organizations and regional advocates and policy analysts. In order to increase community access to some of the major events of the conference, we are choosing sites with easy access to public transportation in the San Francisco East Bay Area, particularly in Oakland and Richmond."
As for the GCCDS presence at the conference itself, David will be speaking along with our former colleague and current director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy, Christine Gaspar as well as Dan Pitera, the head of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center in a panel entitled: Just Beginnings: Alternatives to the Clean Slate. Personally, I can't wait to see them all together in discussion. All three are such brilliant people that I'm sure it's going to be a great session.
As for myself, in lieu of Bryan Bell of DesignCorps/SEED Network/2010-2011 Loeb Fellowship fame presenting at the conference, I will be stepping in to present the SEED Network in a paper session entitled: "Digital and Web‐Based Resources for Planners and Designers" in a talk about SEED and the benefits of digital media in sharing resources and expertise of designers in a variety of disciplines working with communities and how a commitment to setting goals with and for the work in the community will create positive growth.
Other presenters in my session and their topics are:
"The Open Source City: Civic Engagement and Digital Technologies," Francisca Rojas (MIT)
"Local Code: Real Estates", Nicholas de Monchaux (UC Berkeley)
As for additional work at the Design Studio. I have one house in construction and a number of others coming through construction documents and redlines. A house that I have been working on for quite some time is in the process of procuring a final bid and then will start construction which I'm quite happy about. Other than that, I'm rushing like a mad man to get all my IDP backlogged before July 1st and cranking away on other research based projects in the studio. More as it becomes available regarding the GCCDS and I'll be sure to take pictures at the conference.
In a huge weight of my shoulders I got two constructions sets out this week. After a couple weeks of solid work on the Resilient Home Building Expo it was great to be able to work on houses, even if it was the never ending red lines and nit picky stage of the documents. Anyhow, one of our builders is picking up one set to go to permit in Jackson County today and I'm meeting with a client Monday to bring the other set to permit.
We also got word that three houses I worked on earlier this year just came through the procurement process and are going to be ready to go to permit in the next week or two. That means a bunch of final checks (even though red lines were done before they went through procurement) and a bunch of printing and stamping.
In student news, the group has been really impressive in the work and drive to interact and learn about Soria City and it's residents. They are having an open house in their work space this afternoon from 4-7 to get input from the people in the neighborhood on a number of issues as well as the planning and design work they've completed thus far.
This week in GCCDS brings us the beginning of our Spring Studio continuing our relationship with the University of Minnesota's College of Design and School of Architecture. We have five students down for an eight week term beginning this week and will be focusing on the Soria City neighborhood of Gulfport, Mississippi where we have been becoming more active in the past year. They will be tackling issues of property rights along alleys developed before zoning in the city working alongside law students that are volunteering with the Mississippi Center for Justice as well as working on developing additional projects in the neighborhood focused on a variety of issues. Sound broad? It is. The students are adapting well and are very energetic about the work which bodes well for the coming weeks.
We are also working with local business owner Constant Payne (no kidding) who operates a restaurant and owns adjacent space that he rents out (one of which we are using for studio space this term) to further aid development of those spaces. We've affectionately dubbed the studio space the "House of Payne" *addendum* while in Minnesota it was suggested to me by Oz that we call it I.H.O.P., adding an "International" which I thought was brilliant
Here's the official description:
The Gulf Coast 2010 Studio will work in Soria City, an historic African American neighborhood of Gulfport. The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) has made a long-term commitment to work in Soria City to help the community work together to make improvements. The 2010 Studio will work with residents of Soria City, with several non-profit organizations, and with the City of Gulfport as part of the GCCDS on several coordinated projects.
The City of Gulfport has identified the 20th Street neighborhood as a place to start working to renovate existing buildings, add new buildings, and make improvements in the neighborhood public spaces. The residents needs help creating plans to be used to bring resources into Soria City from the city and state and to provide direction to private business and non-profit organization so that future developments will be good for the community.
The 2010 Studio work will:
1. Help the residents address some zoning and parking issues.
2. Develop streetscape designs.
3. Assist the community in implementing some of the streetscape improvements.
4. Design and build a public discourse place as part of the streetscape work.
5. Program and design the adaptive reuse of a historic house.
6. Work with the GCCDS to create useful information for the community.
Soria City has a unique urban form with narrow lots that are at an angle to the streets and alleys. In addition the neighborhood has needs and opportunities for new buildings with a number of vacant lots. As with many low-income neighborhoods, the average property value is too low for market rate housing because the cost of construction exceeds the return on selling or renting property. Therefore, redevelopment requires subsidies and participation by residents to create and maintain partnerships with the city and other organizations that are able to bring resources into the community. Such participatory neighborhood development is the context of the 2010 Studio.
As I get back into the swing of things I'd like to share a couple things that made us really flattered and proud down here at the GCCDS. One is a bit of a cheesecake piece done by the University but really is a great set of interviews located HERE.
The December education issue of Architecture lists Mississippi State University School of Architecture as one of three national schools leading in community design in part because of the work of the GCCDS. Link to their website here. And here is the description:
At Mississippi's only NAAB-accredited program, research arises from and depends on outreach. Four different initiatives--the Carl Small Town Center, the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi (dedicated to rebuilding after Katrina), the Jackson Community Design Center, and the Educational Design Institute (investigating school facilities design)--place community design at the center of pedagogy. The fifth year of B.Arch. instruction takes place in the urban setting of Jackson. Following their third or fourth year, students may choose to fulfill one year of IDP requirements through a co-op experience.
There have been a lot of things going on and as I start to repopulate UYA I hope to get more information on projects I'm working on here as well as starting work on some brand new things I'm thinking about.
Recently, the GCCDS has been researching a variety of building systems and their applications to architecture on the coast. We have looked at everything from whole-building systems (such as structural insulated panels or insulated concrete forms) to individual components (floor finishes, insulation types, etc). For each system, we attempt to analyze its advantages and disadvantages in many areas, including strength, thermal performance, ease of construction, environmental impact, and affordability.
Even when we are finished, our research will only partially cover the vast number of building systems and products that are available. With our guide, we hope to compare a variety of the most common and most promising systems in a way that is useful and easy to understand. If you have experience with any building technologies that we should include, or have ideas for useful ways to present and share this information, let me know.
Information about building systems is not always easily accessible. ToolBase is one site that does a great job collecting information about different systems, but if superior building technologies are to become more widespread, we need more tools for sharing that information. In particular, we need ways of sharing information on the regional level. Throughout the Gulf Coast and the deep South, there are major climate factors and other issues that affect buildings. These include long summers with high temperatures and humidity, seasonal threats from hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding, mold and insects, expansive wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas, high levels of poverty and inequality, and more. The GCCDS is committed to seeking regionally appropriate design solutions for the Gulf Coast.