Mixed-Use Studio 2009
Almost four years after Hurricane Katrina, the communities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast continue to struggle to rebuild. In the low-income, racially diverse community of East Biloxi, which lost more than half of its buildings to the storm, reconstruction has been slowed by complex FEMA requirements to elevate buildings. The current market collapse exacerbates the problem, slowing the return of commercial development.
This project sought to address two problems:
- How can elevated building forms be integrated into a historic urban fabric? With elevation requirements of 8' or more along the community's main commercial street, new typologies are needed to address access, entry, circulation, and visibility from street to ground floor.
- How can well-designed building forms respond to the current pressing need for housing, while allowing for conversion to commercial use as the economy picks up in the future?
Five graduate students from the University of Minnesota's College of Design lived in Biloxi for eight weeks during the spring semester of 2009 in order to better address these complex problems. The site is on Division Street, the main commercial thoroughfare in East Biloxi. Due to economic decline prior to Katrina, as well as the extensive flood damage from the 30' storm surge, the street now contains numerous vacant lots. The lot for the design proposal is owned by the local housing authority and located adjacent to a newly revitalized park.
University of Minnesota. Mike Gordon, James Thompson, Matt Haller, Solomon Atta, Patricia Neer.