A House For Patty
Community Partners : East Biloxi Coordination Center
Building Partners: Pennsylvania State University, Design Corps, GCCDS
Every once in while, a rare and wonderful architectural opportunity approaches the designer by way of a great client. A design partnership arises that is full of educational, lifetime-lasting rewards. This is such a project.
Patty’s house is the product of several collaborations. Brad Guy, the Director of Operation for the Hamer Center for Community Design at Pennsylvania State University, worked with Design Corps to organize a group of twelve architecture students from different universities to work in Biloxi on a design/build project. The GCCDS prepared the project for the design/build studio by producing drawings that were sufficient for the building permit, and the East Biloxi Coordination, Relief, and Redevelopment Agency worked with the homeowner to secure funding for the house. When the students arrived in early summer, the project had a building permit and drawings that left design opportunities for the students. Brad was joined by Bryan Bell, the director of Design Corps, and Sergio Palleroni from the University of Texas at Austin. The group of students and faculty worked for six weeks in the heat of the Mississippi summer, building and designing the house.
One of the goals the Hamer Center brought to the project was to create a LEED certified house. The goal is supported by some grant funding to pay for improved materials and systems. This poster outlines some of the LEED aspects of the house. The house was LEED certified in spring of 2009, the first single-family residence in Mississippi to earn the rating. The house also earned an AIA Mississippi Honor Citation in the spring of 2009.
The plan of the house follows the model of a dog-trot, a southern vernacular house type that separates the living space from the sleeping space with an open covered area that increases the effectiveness of breezes and creates a covered outdoor living area.
The design addresses the challenges of an elevated house. The house is thirteen feet off the ground to meet the FEMA advisory flood elevations. The owner has always enjoyed gardening and is pleased with the possibility of using the area under the house as part of her outdoor space. The house structure is innovative with a combination of concrete and pressure treated wood. The concrete columns extend up to eight feet, above which the wood columns and bracing create a branching structure that centers on a wood column under the square bedroom, and that extends out to support a balcony under the living room. The two parts are joined by the stair.
The Design Corps students worked on the house for six weeks. After the students left several other volunteer groups and a contactor have worked on the project. The GCCDS staff has had an ongoing role in the building of the house continuing the work of the students.
Click here to read Biloxi Treehouse Project, an essay by the studio's Vincent Baudoin on the process of building Patty's house, published in Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Volume 10, Number 3, 2008.