By Amy Ress
The 1% Habitat initiative was born out of Habitat for Humanity’s desire to engage the design community to improve the design and construction process for their 1400+ affiliates across the country. Public Architecture saw this as an opportunity to advocate that quality design could further Habitat’s mission. Through The 1% program, we matched a select group of architecture firms, recognized for their residential design excellence and commitment to public service, to work with Habitat affiliates vetted for their building track record and enthusiasm to partner with designers to bring innovation to their plans. Together these teams are challenged to design and build a home that exceeds Habitat’s typical design and sustainability standards. Three of these partnerships are now underway to construction:
Each project will be documented on The Public Dialogue as they go to build, starting with the Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects (MSME) and Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (HFH MGC) project in Pascagoula, Miss.
By late January 2012, MSME and HFH MGC were quickly approaching the ground breaking on their collaboratively designed house in Pascagoula, Miss. “Everyone here is very excited to get started,” exclaimed Heidi Schattin, Sustainable Building Specialist at HFH MGC. The Habitat affiliate had received the building permit back from the local planning office with only a few minor red lines and the foundation work and pile driving was set to begin in early February.
At this stage, the project team sought to wrap up all the loose ends, such as the remaining design details and material specifications. They ordered the framing package and soon after the siding and trim materials, exterior paint, and stain colors. They would also have to make final design decisions on the porch trim and railings and exterior and interior stairs. Sheri Locke, Project Manager at MSME, firmed up the shop drawings for the generously donated Formica cabinets, countertops, and custom-designed kitchen shelving unit. Locke emphasized their goal to include only “Environmentally Preferable Products” with low chemical and particle emissions.
With sustainability being a high priority, the project was designed to maximize green building practices and energy efficiency and is registered with the USGBC’s LEED for Homes Program and the Home Energy Rating System (HERS). The affiliate’s preliminary HERS score put the project in a range to meet LEED Platinum, the highest designation of sustainability in residential construction. “A lot will depend on the tightness of the house, HVAC performance and pressure tests, site control and material management, but it gives us a great goal to work for,” explained Schattin. The affiliate developed the landscape layout, including pathways, plantings, and turf to meet several of the LEED requirements and worked with MSME to finalize the landscape plan.
Here are some photos of construction during February of 2012:
By mid-March, the trusses were in place and doors were being installed. The house was framed with plywood and the building wrap was installed. Schattin shared that enthusiasm was building at the project site: “We’re getting a lot of great feedback from volunteers and staff here at HFH MGC. I overheard two volunteers say they want to live there!”
Spring break brought nearly twenty college students to the site to volunteer on the house construction. The students worked on numerous tasks to prepare to install the insulation and hang the drywall. Alongside their work, the electrical and plumbing trades installed rough-ins to lay out the basic lines prior to inspection. The Habitat affiliate lined up the HVAC work for the following week.
Today, as Public Architecture awaits the next update from the project team, we are encouraged by the early successes of this project. The team’s achievements are due in large part from their uniquely collaborative approach to the design process. And Habitat for Humanity International agrees, “The house is looking really good – I’m excited that this project is coming together so well,” said Tiffani Irwin, Manager of the Partners in Sustainable Building program. The suspense is building and Public Architecture will be so proud to share this newly completed Habitat home in the coming weeks.