Design Workshop: 2006 InfoWash

During the spring and summer of 2006, 13 students from the Design Workshop designed and built an information center and Laundromat for the town of DeLisle, Mississippi, a community that had been hit directly by Hurricane Katrina a year earlier. The project was the most ambitious effort undertaken by the Design Workshop since its inception nearly ten years ago. The project was initiated by local Mississippi resident Martha Murphy, under circumstances that involved a large degree of serendipity. Following the almost total devastation of the region by the hurricane, including the destruction of her own residence, Martha invited the New York-based architecture firm SHoP Architects to DeLisle to work on a relief center and business incubator for the community. A member of the SHoP team, Federico Negro, was a recent graduate of Parsons’ architecture program and a 2003 Design Workshop alumnus. Federico and SHoP Architects were instrumental in connecting the Design Workshop with the rebuilding efforts in coastal Mississippi, setting in motion the events that would link a group of students and faculty from New York City to a small community on the Gulf Coast in the spring and summer of 2006.

A small town with a post-Katrina population of around 1,000, DeLisle is a located a few miles inland from the larger coastal resort town of Pass Christian and 70 miles east of New Orleans. The eastern tidal surge of Hurricane Katrina had inundated the area, including most of its buildings, destroying the physical and economic foundations of the local community. The property for the community center and for the Design Workshop project was a previously forested parcel of land, located opposite one of the few remaining operational schools in the entire area and a few miles down the road from the large DuPont factory, the largest employer in the town.