New Orleans, Louisiana, 2007 - We spent a day in New Orleans and visited the Ninth Ward. It was a somewhat rainy day and already everything was flooding. Most of the houses looked like this if they were still standing - abandoned, soaked and with the red numbers, indicating the number of dead found in the house, as well as other information.
Site, First Day: The site had lumber for the construction, a garden shed that was being used as shelter, left over debris and a FEMA trailer that the owner, Patty, was living in. This was the first house being rebuilt in Biloxi and was cause for curiosity. We had many builders and residents driving by to see the action throughout our stay.
Digging the foundation! We dug much of the foundation ourselves (not sure why we did not have a backhoe) but when we hit all the oyster shells, we finally got one!.
We placed sonotubes for the columns, leveled and secured them for the concrete pour.
This was our group, 3 guys and the rest women, along with some support from two volunteer foremen: Kiwi Brian from New Zealand and the guy in the bike helmet (forgot his name). We had 7 weeks to work and what was not completed had to be finished by other volunteers which meant leaving clear documentation of our design intentions.
moving along. The roof was installed after we left.
This image really shows the need to find a way to deal with the height requirements. Thirteen feet off the ground is high
I will be glad to see the FEMA trailer gone, and once the trees regain their strength, Patty will have what feels like a tree house.
Early morning, from the back side, shortly before finishing.
Rendering of final design. This rendering was done by someone outside the group using our drawings. We were about 10 -12 architecture students from around the U.S. working 10 to 11 hours on construction each day, 7 days a week. At night (and sometimes during the day) was devoted to working on the final design.

I spent the summer of 2007 in Biloxi, Mississippi with a group of 12 architecture students, to design and build a new house for Patty B.

We had 7 weeks to finish as much as possible, working 7 days a week. The site we had been assigned in advance changed the few weeks prior to our arrival (from a renovation to a rebuild). This was the first house rebuilt in one of the most devastated areas along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Our project won a Mississippi AIA Award in 2009, was featured in the October 2008 issue of Architectural Record and was included in 'Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism' by Bryan Bell.

Kristin Hawk
Architectural Designer Wilmington, NC