Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Announces Winner of the First Ever People’s Design Award

Release Date: 
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Press Release: 

Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Announces Winner of the First Ever People’s Design Award

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented its first ever People’s Design Award to Marianne Cusato for the Katrina Cottage, Wednesday, Oct. 18, at its seventh annual National Design Awards gala. After receiving hundreds of votes during the course of one month on the Cooper-Hewitt Web site, the Katrina Cottage emerged as the public’s favorite design.

At the Mississippi Renewal Forum in October 2005, just six weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, architect and planner Andrés Duany developed the concept for the Katrina Cottage. Marianne Cusato devised the design in response to the short-term limitations of FEMA trailers. The Katrina Cottage is a small, permanent house that is safe, affordable and can be assembled quickly. The cottages are engineered to withstand at least 140-mph winds and can be constructed with wood framing, steel framing or prefabricated foam-insulated panels, and are finished with fiber cement siding and a metal roof. Lowe’s, the national building supply company, is introducing kit versions of four Katrina Cottage designs in November.

“The Katrina Cottage is a dignified alternative to conventional temporary housing,” said Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson. “Marianne Cusato’s design offers a long-term solution for displaced families, and I’m thrilled that so many people voted for a socially conscious design that could help thousands in need in the Gulf Coast region.”

Marianne Cusato, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, is the principal of Marianne Cusato Associates, a New York-based architecture firm, and the founder of Cusato Cottages, LLC. She is the author of the forthcoming book “Get Your House Right: How to Avoid Common Mistakes in Today’s Traditional Architecture.”

National Design Week and the National Design Awards are sponsored by Target.

About the People’s Design Award
Launched Sept. 17, the People’s Design Award Web site received hundreds of nominations, thousands of votes and more than 100,000 visitors. By logging on to, users were able to browse and vote from the existing nominees or upload images to nominate a new object.

Nominees ranged from everyday objects (the zipper and the mousetrap) and design classics (the Eames chair and the George Nelson clock) to architectural monuments (Chicago’s Millenium Park and the Empire State Building) and examples of iconic graphic design (the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover and the “I Love NY” logo). Voting closed at 6 p.m. EST, Oct. 16, and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi announced the winning design Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the National Design Awards gala in New York City.

About the National Design Awards
First launched at the White House as a project of the White House Millennium Council, the Awards were established to broaden awareness of the role of design in daily life by honoring individuals in all areas of design, as well as its patrons and supporters. The National Design Awards are accompanied each year by a variety of public education programs, including lectures, roundtable discussions and workshops.

National Design Week: Oct. 15-21, 2006
The People’s Design Award is part of Cooper-Hewitt’s new education initiative, National Design Week. During this week, the museum is offering free admission for all visitors and hosting numerous free design programs. In recognition of the importance of design education, organizations and schools nationwide also will sponsor events during National Design Week.

About Cooper-Hewitt
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications. Founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt—granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper—as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the museum has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967.

About Target
Minneapolis-based Target serves guests at 1,444 stores in 47 states nationwide. Target gives back more than $2 million a week to its local communities through grants and special programs. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.