David Thrasher isn't a man of many words–unless you mention LeBron. When David's not volunteering in Haiti he's in a Masters of Architecture program at Ohio State University. I got him on the phone the other day to tell me about one of his first experiences on the ground with Architectrue for Humanity–a site visit to Delmas 75...well, a three-site site visit. Here's the scoop:
The Institut Foyer du savoir ("Home of Knowledge Institute") called on us to try to make sense of their peculiar situation. Their 200 students were currently in the makings of a converted house: a couple classrooms were roughed into a dimly-lit living space and a third inhabited the driveway, shaded by a tarpaulin. The morning session had ended by the time we showed up but a few children lingered–it didn't take long for this temporary location to feel like home.
Ms. Louissaint received us there and would be showing us the old site and the one where their ambitions lay. It was clear by that point the owner of the property of the old school had no desire that a new one be built following the earthquake. As it was, the old building was decimated. Perhaps for the better–the triangular lot was staggeringly small and the Institut had ambitions to expand. Their biggest challenge now was to find land they could purchase (including an in-tact deed to fend off contention).
Sights were set on an airy hilltop property a bit farther from the previous two, at the edge of the neighborhood. There was more land, it was unbuilt property and had a panoramic view of the surrounding urbanized hills. Ms. Louissant began painting a vision of the new school: three buildings. Wood frame with metal roofs, no concrete. A respectable kitchen and lavatory. Science, athletics, and adult training programs. A choir.
The Institut has applied for a StudentsRebuild grant but whether or not they have secured a land title for the project will determine, naturally, if one can be built at all!