The Women in Construction Training Center creates teaching and workspace for a non-profit organization whose mission is training and placing women in non-traditional construction occupations. The training program is part of Moore Community House, an organization founded over 90 years ago by the National United Methodist Women to serve low-income families in Biloxi, Mississippi. The interior renovation and new addition not only serve Women in Construction’s functional needs, but also communicate the “can-do” philosophy of the organization. Design-build elements in the interior renovation show innovation and resourcefulness. The roof of the outdoor workspace manifests how a seemingly ordinary, repetitive building element – a roof truss – can accomplish something unique. The roof structure is made of four different trusses to create a simple roof plane and a complex ceiling shape. Clerestory openings bring light and ventilation into the workspace and the folded roof lifts the space along building’s public side creating bays at a scale fitting for the residential neighborhood.
The activity of building was not simply a means to produce a building; construction training for women is the organization’s mission and the building is the lasting record of achieving their mission. The construction was supported by forty volunteers from a sponsor organization who traveled to work on the project for a week. The sponsor paid for most of the construction, thus supporting the organization and provided their employees with a team-building, service opportunity. Accordingly, the construction created a “barn-raising” experience utilizing the time and talent of volunteers and Women in Construction students working alongside the contractor.
The new training center adds to the capacity of the organization functionally, socially and economically. It provides useful workspace as well as communicates to funders, students and potential employers the mission and “can-do” philosophy of the organization.