SIU architects design new tomorrow for Harrisburg

By Matt Daray

With the help of SIU architecture teachers and students, Harrisburg is now rebuilding after a tornado hit the town Feb 29.

Students gained real world experience by helping design buildings for families affected by the EF4 tornado that passed through Harrisburg, killing six and destroying buildings and homes.

Jon Davey, a professor of architect, organized the project.


Davey set up a design studio in Harrisburg from March 10 to March 17 where residents could have new homes designed for free by SIU students.

He said the mayor of Harrisburg and three families greeted them when they arrived.

Davey said the new designs for the homes are better for the environment and provide either basements or walk-in closets that meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards of being safe in case of disasters.

Davey, 10 univeristy students, an alumnus, an occupation supporter and a staff member helped give 23 families design plans of new homes, ready for contractors.

Davey said the group volunteered more than 200 hours of work, or the equivalent of $21,000 worth of labor. He said some students skipped their jobs to help design.

The architects and students visited the home sites and collected information regarding locations of utilities, property lines, trees, driveways and sidewalks, and other miscellaneous data.

The data allowed for the architects and students to create working drawings to repair or replace the homes damaged by the storm. The new plans are similar to the designs of the former homes but use sustainable concepts and solutions for future disasters.

Eric Gregg, the mayor of Harrisburg, said he is grateful for all the work SIUC students have done.

Gregg, an SIU alumnus, said SIU students coming to Harrisburg have really shown the character of the students and campus. He said he was honored to have the campus help out and he plans to have the students responsible for the architect plans to come back and cut the ribbon for the completed houses they helped design.