The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented its first ever People's Design Award to Marianne Cusato for the Katrina Cottage, Wednesday, Oct. 18, at its seventh annual National Design Awards gala. After receiving hundreds of votes during the course of one month on the Cooper-Hewitt Web site, the Katrina Cottage emerged as the public's favorite design.
At the Mississippi Renewal Forum in October 2005, just six weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, architect and planner Andres Duany developed the concept for the Katrina Cottage. Marianne Cusato devised the design in response to the short-term limitations of FEMA trailers. The Katrina Cottage is a small, permanent house that is safe, affordable and can be assembled quickly. The cottages are engineered to withstand at least 140-mph winds and can be constructed with wood framing, steel framing or prefabricated foam-insulated panels, and are finished with fiber cement siding and a metal roof. Lowe's, the national building supply company, is introducing kit versions of four Katrina Cottage designs in November.
"The Katrina Cottage is a dignified alternative to conventional temporary housing," said Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson. "Marianne Cusato's design offers a long-term solution for displaced families, and I'm thrilled that so many people voted for a socially conscious design that could help thousands in need in the Gulf Coast region."
Marianne Cusato, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, is the principal of Marianne Cusato Associates, a New York-based architecture firm, and the founder of Cusato Cottages, LLC. She is the author of the forthcoming book "Get Your House Right: How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Today's Traditional Architecture."
National Design Week and the National Design Awards are sponsored by Target.