Seth Welty
Gulf Coast Community Design Studio


“Following Katrina, I was involved in post-storm design charettes and well-attended community meetings between area residents and urban planners. There was much talk of change and hope, but little follow-through or tangible results. I see the Rose Fellowship as an opportunity to affect real change in communities where hope can fall victim in the struggle to move home. The chance to engage communities and see projects through, from conception to reality is unique to the Rose Fellowship, and indispensable to the recovery of the Gulf Coast.”

Seth Welty's commitment to community design was sparked at the Tulane School of Architecture when Hurricane Katrina exposed unspoken social injustices. "When I returned to New Orleans, I found that my prior perceptions of design were shattered. It became clear that architecture needed to take a more inclusive role in an environment where design services were needed by more than the topmost layers of social strata."

Seth spent his fellowship in Biloxi, Miss., at the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS). He was able to focus his interest in community design on scales ranging from urban planning and mapping projects to the intimate design components of a house. Seth worked on multi-unit projects in Biloxi, Gulfport, and Pass Christian, as well as individual homes in east Biloxi. He also helped craft design standards for the studio that advocates energy-efficient systems and healthy, sustainable material usage.

While in school, Seth played a major role in Tulane's pilot URBANbuild program, which investigated existing models and proposed more affordable, safe and sustainable alternatives. Seth was a lead designer in the first URBANbuild design/build house, which was exhibited at the 2006 Venice Biennale Exhibition: URBANbuild. Seth received the John Lawrence Memorial Medal for Design Excellence from Tulane School of Architecture and continued his design work with the Tulane City Center. Seth also received a Best in Show for his salvaged-material "Oak Floor Chair" at the 2008 Salvations Juried Furniture Competition, sponsored by the Green Project in New Orleans.

Since finishing his fellowship with GCCDS, Seth has returned to Tulane University to teach.


Bethel Estates

34 affordable home ownership units

Residential Unit Profile:
Back Bay Mission, Alembic Development Company, the Mississippi Development Authority, and the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) teamed together to create the first affordable housing development in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The 34-unit development is currently under construction with the first houses anticipated to finish construction in early 2010. The development is the first project that has gone through full SmartCode design and planning reviews by the City of Pass Christian, which recently adopted the New Urbanist ordinances.

The development breaks new ground in stormwater management for new developments in coastal areas. Watersheds along the Mississippi Gulf Coast rely on wetlands during rainwater events to capture, hold, and allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground. Wetlands are crucial to managing the surface water during hazardous weather, central to ecological habitats, and increasingly encroached upon by new developments. This project will use a combination of raingardens (which act like ‘mini’ wetlands on a site) and indigenous plantings to mimic the natural infiltration methods of wetlands and avoid heavy infrastructure such as concrete retention ponds and large stormwater drainage pipes. Additionally, water-permeable walkways, driveways, and alleys help maintain ideal water infiltration rates on the sites.


North Gulfport

50,000 sq ft gross site area
8,000 sq ft gross project area
Program Scope
11 affordable rental housing units

Residential Unit Profile:
The North Gulfport Community Land Trust (NGCLT) works to provide permanently affordable housing, community preservation, leadership development, and environmental protection and awareness in the historic North Gulfport area. In 2010, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) provided 10 premanufactured cottages to the NGCLT to place on sites scattered around the North Gulfport neighborhood. Additionally, the NGCLT moved a nearby historic home to be renovated in the North Gulfport neighborhood to prevent its demolition. By utilizing previously developed infill sites within the same neighborhood, this project integrated into the existing community more naturally and showed significant consideration to issues of environmental conservation and low-impact development. No virgin land was impacted, no new roads or transportation routes were required, and no ecological habitats were endangered.

The scattered-site aspect of this project is particularly well-suited in this area; North Gulfport is bordered by wetlands that are integral to the region’s capacity to retain and filter stormwater. In recent decades, however, the North Gulfport area has been subject to rampant development, much of which replaced nearby wetlands with hardscape without effective wetland mitigation strategies. The result were increases in flooding and drainage problems in an African-American neighborhood that has been historically under-represented and under-served by the municipality. By only locating MEMA cottages on existing previously-developed lots, many stormwater management issues were precluded.

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio (GCCDS) and Seth worked with the NGCLT to develop site plans and specifications for rehabilitation of the MEMA cottages and the historic rehabilitation in order to achieve compliance with Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. This project was completed in March, 2010.

100,000 Acquisition (land)
327,000 Hard (construction)
427,000 TOTAL

Completed 2010


Green Model Home

Affordable home ownership unit

Residential Unit Profile:
Habitat for Humanity: Bay-Waveland (HFHBW) operates in Hancock County, Mississippi and has recently made a commitment to ‘going green.’ As part of this effort, they are constructing a home that demonstrates various measures that address environmental and energy concerns. The house is intended to be a model for their future housing projects and is anticipated to achieve the highest certification levels under NAHB’s Green Homebuilding Guidelines and the National Green Building Standard. The house will be entered in Mississippi Home Corporation’s ‘Growing a Greener Mississippi’ housing competition.

Seth worked with HFHBW as the designer and project manager for the Green Model Home, which is scheduled to complete construction in early November 2009. Particular attention was given to passive cooling strategies and passive modes of ventilation in the home. Additionally, material economy was a prime factor- a combination of advanced framing methods and diligent construction management allowed for an efficient use of materials on site. The highly-efficient HVAC system is located within conditioned space and equipped with fresh air intake valves and an Energy-Recovery Ventilator to reduce the energy-loss and improve air quality. These building methods, along with the many other green building measures, will begin to reappear in hundreds of Habitat homes to come in the Bay St. Louis area.


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