Materializing Design | The Work of the Gulf Coast DesignLab

Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021 , 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Location: Virtual
MD: Work of Gulf Coast DesignLab_Build Project

The Material’s Lab continued the ‘Materializing Design’ series with a virtual presentation from Coleman Coker. Coleman Coker is a Professor of Practice at the School of Architecture and the director of the Gulf Coast DesignLab. The Gulf Coast DesignLab is the first ecologically-based program that fosters environmental activism within the field of design and for the public. In the program’s nine years, GCDL students have provided more than 25 well-designed places—outdoor classrooms, field stations, fire circles, nature observatories—where teachers, biologists, ecologists, and artists engage the public in field-based educational work. 

Coleman’s presentation touched on a variety of topics including the mission of the GCDL, methods of fabrication, and material investigation. Coleman expanded on the GCDL’s mission to foster environmental activism and increase the public’s ecological literacy. The GCDL aims to listen to the needs of their clients as well as encourage community engagement and promote public interest design. Going one step further than designing, students of the GCDL use a variety of fabrication methods in the built practice including structural timber work, steelwork, and casting. Coleman continued expanding on the GCDL’s goal of promoting ecological literacy as seen in their material investigations and alternative material applications. From oyster shells to polycarbonate panels, the students of the GCDL use local, sustainable, and off-the-shelf materials in unique and innovative ways. To conclude the session, Coleman fielded questions from students and faculty, describing the timeframe of the process from design to build, post-occupancy evaluation of projects, and sustainable material investigations.