Design studio director to give Harrison lecture

Contact: Zack Plair

David Perkes (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—David Perkes is looking beyond rebuilding and focusing more on resilience.

As founding director for Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, he plans to promote the studio’s forward-thinking design philosophy when he visits the Starkville campus Friday [Oct. 30] as part of the MSU School of Architecture’s Robert and Freda Harrison Endowed Visiting Lecture Series. He will speak at 4 p.m. in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium at Giles Hall.

MSU established the design studio in Biloxi as an outreach program of the College of Architecture, Art and Design in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Its staff of professional designers has worked with communities, non-profit organizations and residents to rebuild or repair hundreds of homes, as well as reclaim landscape along the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast. Through a thoughtful, design initiative that closely involves stakeholders, Perkes said, the center aims to promote community sustainability.

The studio has earned numerous regional and national awards, and has been named a National Resilience Design Studio by the American Institute of Architects and Rockefeller foundations.

“The focus isn’t just on rebuilding after Katrina,” Perkes said. “It’s about making strong, resilient coastal communities.”

Started in 2009 with a gift from the Harrisons, the visiting lecture series invites architects, academics, artists, makers and theoreticians from the U.S. and around the world to the MSU campus to present their work and interact with students, said Michael Berk, School of Architecture director and F.L. Crane Professor. The series typically hosts about 10 lecturers annually, he added.

“The intention of the visiting series is to bring cutting-edge ideas from around the world and the academy to our students and faculty in Starkville,” Berk said. “These inspiring presentations have an amazing impact on our students — it opens their eyes to the possibilities beyond the horizon. These visitors also get a glimpse of the amazing work our students and faculty are doing, helping to enhance our external reputations.”

A former director for the Jackson Community Design Center, where he taught fifth-year architecture students, Perkes won the Latrobe Prize in 2011 and served as Loeb Fellow in 2003-04.

Perkes said he hopes his lecture gives students at MSU’s Starkville campus a better understanding of the design studio’s work and inspires them to become involved.

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