The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday February 28th

City planning should meet community needs, expert says

City planning can be used to meet short and long-term community needs, Director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio David Perkes said Tuesday.

Perkes, who is also a professor at Mississippi State University, spoke to a group of graduate students in New East Building. He said a focus must be put on resilience and public interest design, which he defined as architecture driven by bigger community needs.

“Public interest of design is extending the benefits of design to more people, especially those who can’t pay for it,” Perkes said.

He said resilience is about making systems more able to handle change. He said it is a long-term effort the community must be involved in.

“Resilience is adapting and getting stronger in the uncertain social-ecological context of abrupt changes and slow changes,” Perkes said.

Gavin Smith is a professor and the director of the Coastal Resilience Center. Smith said he met Perkes while working on Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, and the two have kept in touch since.

Smith said he asked Perkes to speak as part of a speaker series he organized for graduate students in the Department of City and Regional Planning.

“This is part of a speaker series, which is also part of a ten-credit hour certificate program in natural hazard resilience," he said. "I have speakers come in, for example last week we had Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, come in and speak. They speak to my afternoon class, and I ask many of them to speak in an evening lecture." 

Carl Kolosna, a graduate student in city and regional planning, said he admires Perkes.

“David is an incredible person," Kolosna said. "The focus on equity was really good. It’s something that’s really important for the department. It’s something that’s really important for the world.”

Perkes said when he began his career as an architect, working on projects for the rich left him feeling unfulfilled. He now works to help coastal communities in need.

“There’s got to be some way to make this work more relevant," he said. "It’s got to help people. Let’s make sure what we do at the end of the day is helping people and not just helping the few.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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