Steve Dumez, FAIA
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans, LA
“Resilient Design goes beyond sustainability to create structures that respond to their surroundings and their climate and facilitate the rebuilding of communities in the wake of natural disaster,” says Steve Dumez, FAIA.
“Sustainable design is a response to climate and place and resources, whereas resilience focuses more on a dynamic set of conditions that might change more directly over time,” he explains. “Resilience is a subject that needs to be addressed within the context of climate change, and how our buildings and our communities can be more responsive to those conditions before and after a disaster.”
Dumez will discuss resilient design and the importance of community engagement as part of the design process for livable, sustainable communities during his presentation at the AIA Tennessee Expo and Convention in Nashville, TN., July 30-August 1.
A Better Place
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple was half its current size in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Crescent City. The rebuilding of the city was extremely personal to so many and it galvanized the firm’s mission: to play an instrumental role in the rebuilding effort that followed. Rebuild what was lost, but better. Dumez recalls the experience as both humbling and moving.
At a time when it was too easy to stay away, he says, “Almost everyone who made a decision to move back to New Orleans was planting a flag and making a commitment to make a better place.” He said all the people and entities involved were fully engaged, and something special happened for Dumez and the firm.
“We were completely engaged at every level, committed to working in sometimes difficult circumstances to create a better New Orleans. We were working together as a group, all aware we each had each other’s back; we would wade into every conversation knowing the firm could deliver.”
Had the storm hit five years later, he believes the firm might not been as readily able to embrace the consequences of making those tough decisions.
“It was at a time when we were fully confident in our ability to deliver, and were young and crazy enough to think we could contribute something meaningful,” he said.
Nearly a decade later, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is known for its philosophical approach to design; embracing geography, climate, resources, and traditions. The firm has been honored with dozens of local, state and national design awards – nine from the American Institute of Architects, and most recently its highest honor, the 2014 Architecture Firm Award.
A Partner’s Legacy
It was just two days before winning the 2014 AIA award that Founder Allen Eskew died at the age of 65. A mentor to Dumez, Eskew is remembered for his ceaseless energy, for landmark projects that have shaped New Orleans, and for his commitment to mentorship and community engagement.
“With architects, we usually think of their accomplishments as brick and mortar; Allen’s is the connection to people, his essential humanism,” Dumez says. “He drew people in, was an incredible collaborator and listener, and was interested in public engagement, whether it was the person across the table for dinner or two or three hundred people at a community forum.”
Eskew was, in every way, the engaged citizen-architect and his commitment to place is part of the firm’s DNA, he says.
Design. Inspire. Transform.
Dumez says he finds personal inspiration and satisfaction through the creative aspects of architecture but he’s also inspired by art, “particularly art as it relates to landscape,” he says. “That relationship tells us a tremendous amount about our place in the world and therefore the way in which architecture can affect landscape and experience in a profound way.”
He sketches, draws and paints a little, a tough thing to find time to do with young children in the house; enjoys performance art, dance and theater; and says playfully, “I sometimes sing but only after multiple bourbons.”
Connect with Steve Dumez & Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
While not personally engaged with Facebook and an “occasional” follower of Twitter, Dumez is appreciative of the growing importance of social media to the design and corporate worlds. His company does engage on several platforms.
“We view it as an integral component to marketing efforts,” he says. “It’s a vital way we can generate a buzz related to news that we can share, and a critical component to the way the firm disseminates information and engages the public.”
Website – www.eskewdumezripple.com/
Twitter – twitter.com/edr_design
Facebook – www.facebook.com/EskewDumezRipple
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/company/392455?trk=tyah
YouTube – www.youtube.com/user/EskewDumezRipple
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple has built a nationally recognized practice of distinction with a particular emphasis on projects that enhance and contribute to the enjoyment of the public realm, foster creativity and nurture appreciation of one’s surroundings within the built environment.
As an architectural, interiors and urban design firm based in New Orleans, LA, the firm recognizes the importance of the unique culture and architectural heritage of its surroundings and generates design that is considerate of historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and sensitivity to the character of place. Its commitment to enhance and protect both the cultural and natural environments of the communities it serves is evident in the beauty and technical craftsmanship of its designs and the enduring sustainable legacy of its projects.
For more information, visit: www.eskewdumezripple.com
Check out this video on Reinventing the Crescent by AIA National