In 2010, a massive earthquake rocked Haiti, and soon after, Prof. John McRae began offering a studio for students to use design to address great need in the small island country.
Since the earthquake, professors and students have helped the country’s rebuilding efforts by designing schools, housing and a clinic in Fond-des-Blancs and nearby communities.
These design projects are unlike any others: Students’ designs must use only the minimal building materials available in Haiti, and residents in Haiti must be able to construct them, themselves, with oversight from students,professors and others.
Students and professors have taken numerous trips to Haiti to experience the culture, understand the terrain, learn the challenges and celebrate the fortitude and spirit of the Haitian people. This work has given students hands-on experience in creating designs for real spaces and real people that bring about change and rebuild communities. Read about the Haiti Project.
In spring 2011, students designed a master plan for L’Exode Secondary School, which serves students in grades 7-12. The first phase of construction— five first-story classrooms, restrooms and the cafeteria-meeting hall—was completed in 2012.
An outdoor athletic stadium was built soon after, but in 2016, the stadium sustained significant damage when Category 4 Hurricane Matthew blew across Haiti. Immediately, students, professors and alumni came together to raise more than $5,000 to repair the structure.
Students have also designed preschools for Fond-des-Blancs and other Haitian communities.
Beginning in 2012, we began designing houses for the region. One house has been completed, and others are in various stages of construction.
In 2013, our students worked with the UT College of Nursing, architect Chris King and the U.S. organization Friends of Fort Liberte to design an overhaul of a medical clinic in Fort Liberte.
The design of current housing in Haiti can contribute to the spread of disease. In response, we created LIFEHouse guidebook to address the urgent need for adequate building standards in the country to help Haitians build secure and healthy homes using local materials and methods.
On all of its projects, we’ve partnered with the Haiti Development Fund and Executive Director Jean Thomas. The organization pays for the construction of the buildings, and members of the UT Haiti Project provide oversight.