Hurricane Katrina

Katrina Cottage captures kudos

Marianne Cusato's Katrina Cottage won The Smithsonian Institution design museum's first-ever People's Design Award this week.

A month of voting on the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum's Web site earned the award for the design, which evolved from the Mississippi Renewal Forum just after Hurricane Katrina.

A response to the short-term limitations of FEMA trailers, the cottages are small, permanent houses that were built to be affordable and assembled quickly. They are engineered to withstand 140-mph winds and can be constructed with wood or steel framing and are finished with cement siding and a metal roof.

Lowe's will be introducing kit versions of four designs next month.

"The Katrina Cottage is a dignified alternative to conventional temporary housing," Cooper-Hewitt director Paul Warwick Thompson said. "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."

The People's Design Award Web site collected hundreds of nominations, thousands of votes and more than 100,000 visitors.

Nominees ranged from everyday objects - such as the zipper - to design classics such as the Eames chair to iconic graphic design, such as the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover.