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Community/Resiliency Center, Houma, Louisiana 

ongoing design project

During Hurricane Ida in 2021, the house being used as the community gathering space for the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribal peoples was completely destroyed. The Grand Caillou/Dulac Band tribal peoples have been living in their ancestral traditional village of Grand Caillou/Dulac along the Louisiana Gulf Coast for centuries. Their ancestors were primarily of the historical Biloxi, Chitimacha and Choctaw but also Atakapas and Acolapissa Tribes. Sustaining the village was done by trapping, fishing, hunting and farming. Their people still continue to live off the water and the land to the best of their ability today but their tribe is in a serious crisis.

The traditions and cultural practices that were handed down by ancestors are far less sustaining due to drastic environmental changes brought on by oil and gas exploration, erosion, salt water intrusion and climate change. We lose an average of a football field of land every 100 minutes: every day is a fight to save their tribe from losing their homelands, their culture and their identity to avoid extinction.


This project is in collaboration with Community Engineer Corps, Building Humanity, Engineers Without Borders, Purdue University EWB Chapter and Community and College Partners Program (C2P2). Together with the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band, we will be designing a community center to serve as a day-to-day cultural hub. The building will be able to operate and accommodate meetings with the tribe elders, holidays and community gatherings, and other activities. Additionally, with the recent closure of schools and other infrastructure in the Dulac area, the community center will also serve as an informal learning space for children. 

The community center will need to be hurricane resilient in the case of a major weather event, including a storm surge. The goal is for the center to withstand a CAT-4 hurricane. While many tribe members evacuate inland during hurricanes, often, elder members of the tribe or those without adequate transportation will need to shelter in the building during a storm although this is intended as a last resort for anyone unable to evacuate.  

Special Skills Needed

​Designers and engineers with hurricane design experience are preferred. If you do not have experience, you may be able to help with drawings and plans under the guidance of a professional with hurricane experience.

  • Structural engineer 

  • Mechanical engineer

  • Electrical engineer

  • Plumbing engineer

  • Civil engineer

  • PV Designer/Engineer

  • Landscape Designer

  • Architects or designers who can assist with Revit model

  • 3D modelers and renderers to produce high quality images for fundraising and grant purposes

All volunteers are covered by the CE Corps’ professional liability insurance policy. 

Current Design

The current 10,000SF design takes into account the +15' flood plane requirements outlined by FEMA. Non essential program is located on the ground floor, with any equipment or critical items being able to be moved to the first floor in the event a hurricane is approaching. The first floor is comprised of the multipurpose space, a small kitchen, 3 offices for staff, a children's room, 2 classrooms and a central spine which will provide space for members of the community to congregate or utilize the communal computer stations. 

The roof will house a spacious deck for community use, with space for solar panels and a protected mechanical well.

This project has ambitious sustainability goals. It will aim for a minimum of LEED certified as well as Zero Energy Certification through Living Future. We are also planning on utilizing reclaimed water pursuant to local laws. 


design and construction of a community & resiliency center


Houma, Louisiana, USA


Currently ongoing

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Project Costs

Initial cost estimate has come in at $5.5 Million for the building cost only. A more detailed cost estimates will be completed once initial schematics have begun. 

Additional Resources

  •  How Shirell Parfait-Dardar advocates for her Native American tribe and heals the earth


Elder Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar is a part of the upcoming National Geographic documentary series “Impact,” which chronicles the lives of resilient women around the globe. Produced by “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, it will premiere April 19th, 2021 on National Geographic.

You can watch the trailer here, and learn more about the documentary series here.

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