Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction - Six Month Report

Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction - Six Month Report

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Apr 29, 2013
  • comments

In the six months since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, Architecture for Humanity has launched a major disaster response effort focused on the long-term reconstruction of devastated communities. The Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction Program is only possible with the on-going support and generosity of our followers, partners, chapter members and global network of architects and designers.

Communities along the New Jersey and New York coast continue to struggle with the destruction and chaos left behind by Hurricane Sandy. Homes, businesses, community centers, schools and parks will need to be built back better during the reconstruction process. It will be a challenge, but East Coast communities are hopeful for a brighter, resilient future.

From Far Rockaway, NY to Atlantic City, NJ, Architecture for Humanity is collaborating with community members, local non-profits and small businesses to rebuild, stimulate the local economy, increase job opportunities, provide education and training and restore places that hold deep memories for so many people.

Architecture for Humanity will help meet the areas varied needs by supporting four core programs:

    Restore the Shore - Seaside Heights, New Jersey
    ReNew York schools - New York
    ReNew Jersey schools - New Jersey
    Resilient Retrofits - New York City
    Rebuild One Block - Rockaways, New York

We continue to work hand-in-hand with local organizations in New York and New Jersey to meet a range of expertise required during the reconstruction process. The New York regional office of Architecture for Humanity, located in Manhattan, will spearhead our Sandy programs while design fellows will be positioned in specific communities to carry out community-led design work and manage on-site project construction. Our entire team looks forward to the reconstruction work and helping to make strides in the long journey ahead.

Please learn more about our disaster response, core programs and new team members in the full six-month report below.

New York City is home to our largest chapter group, accounting for over 400 members representing a diverse group of architects, designers and construction professionals. In the weeks following Hurricane Sandy, our NYC chapter rallied over 200 members to be trained in field assessments and performed over 100 site assessments throughout Coney Island, Tottenville, Seagate and Midland Beach to better understand the extent of damages. Chapter members were also providing volunteer support to the NYC Office of Emergency Management during this time. Their combined efforts provided a strong platform for the launch of an official response from our global headquarter office in San Francisco.

Our organization will develop the NYC Chapter's disaster response and resiliency capabilities with continued training sessions and seminars for our members. These response efforts also led to the founding of a new chapter in Newark, New Jersey. We look forward to NYC and Newark chapters taking leadership in resiliency and disaster response throughout the East Coast.

In partnership with Nike, ReNew York schools and ReNew Jersey schools programs will create innovative and inspiring places of sport by transforming public school athletic facilities damaged by the storm. Through the careful assessment of 20 schools with the help of Perkins+Will and our NYC and Newark chapters, three New York City schools and two New Jersey schools have been identified as participants in the program. Look out for news on community design charrettes and construction progress on the project page.

Did you know that we worked on a sport facility in NYC last year? The Manhattan Bridge Skatepark is a project completed with Nike to rebuild a neglected public space beneath the towering Manhattan Bridge. The Skatepark is now a beacon for anyone in NYC with a board.

Seaside Heights, New Jersey, situated in the heart of the Jersey Shore and home to decades of summer memories, has been left ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. The residents of Seaside Heights are now facing economic hardships, as both their livelihoods and homes were destroyed or damaged. However, they are prepared to build back stronger and more resiliently.

With funds from MTV's Restore the Shore telethon and other sources, Architecture for Humanity is currently working with the town of Seaside Heights to help identify projects that will strengthen the cultural and economic heritage of the Boardwalk district and community areas. Two projects have been shortlisted and we look to begin a community design charrette in May. Our design fellow, Walter Ziegler will be on the ground the 1st of May to kick things off!

The Resilient Retrofits program will provide a combination of grants and technical assistance to eligible small landlords in vulnerable areas of New York affected by Hurricane Sandy to assist multi-unit landlords in adopting more resilient and sustainable building systems. The pilot phase of the program will complete the retrofit of 20 multi-unit buildings with the support of volunteer architects and energy professionals. Through this program, small landlords and their tenants will be better prepared against future storms.

Architecture for Humanity will leverage technical assistance from both the Clinton Foundation and NYSERDA to provide complementary technical case-management and financial support.




Thanks to Managing Director Jennifer Dunn, the New York chapter has been instrumental in aiding us with assessments of communities impacted by the storms to help Architecture for Humanity understand where recovery needs are greatest. The Constructing Resilient Communities (CRC) Program is the NY chapter's second response phase to super storm Sandy. The chapter is creating workshops or forums based on the information gathered in the assessment phase to connect home and business owners with architects, contractors, and engineers. The professional technical assistance will help those still displaced to more quickly get them back in their homes or business spaces and to create environments that can better sustain the changing climatic conditions.  Thanks to Emily Sprague, Sandy Phase 1 Project Coordinator and the rest of the outstanding volunteer team at the NY Chapter.


The Newark Chapter of Architecture for Humanity has recently re-established themselves, following Hurricane Sandy.  Lead by Martha Brazoban, they will be in close communication with our regional office and the NY chapter to expand their impact in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.  This small chapter needs your involvement and support for their initiatives.  There are ample opportunities to work on amazing community projects.  See their website to get involved.


We're also excited to announce three new additions to our team! Rachel Minnery, AIA, Brian Baer, and Walter Ziegler have recently joined us at our newly established regional office in New York. This regional office will operate out of New York and will grow in staff until the Sandy Reconstruction Program is complete.

Rachel Minnery Rachel will be working as our Regional Program Manager, managing all of our Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction programs for the duration of the program.  She joins us as an architect from environmental WORKS community design center.  Rachel is a LEED accredited professional and has focused on environmentally and socially responsible design for building and planning projects in both the public and private sectors.   Rachel is past-chair of the American Institute of Architects Disaster Assistance Committee and co-founder of Architects Without Borders, Seattle.  Read her full bio here.
Brian Baer Brian will be managing the school component of the overall Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction program in New York City, in partnership with Nike.  He joins us with over 25 years of sustainable community-aided design for educational, cultural, civic and non-governmental agency projects across the United States.  Combining his versatile leadership and managerial skills, Brian has collaborated with a variety of constituencies as a consensus builder throughout the design and building process.  He is licensed in several states, is a LEED accredited professional and is certified by NCARB.  Read his full bio here.
Walter Ziegler

Walter brings to Architecture for Humanity experience from over 25 years of architectural and construction practice both in the private and public sectors.  Walt has experience in architectural design, timber frame construction, preservation and eco-effective design, and a body of work that includes large-scale urban redevelopment projects, non-profit community revitalization, and adaptive reuse of historic structures.  A native of Cranbury, New Jersey, growing up on the Jersey Shore, Walter joins Architecture for Humanity as the Design Fellow for the Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction Program in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Please join us in welcoming these three to our team!



A special thank you to Turner & Townsend Ferzan Robbins for graciously lending us office space for us to operate from over the next three months!  Additional thanks to the American Institute of Architects for their continued support throughout all of our reconstruction efforts.


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