Chapters Make Strides Towards Resilient Communities

Chapters Make Strides Towards Resilient Communities

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Sep 03, 2013
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The Reconstruction & Resiliency Studio caught up with the Baltimore and Washington D.C. Chapters of Architecture for Humanity to talk about their resiliency work since completing the AIA / Architecture for Humanity 2012 Disaster Plan Grant.

In September 2012, five chapters (Seattle, Chicago, New York City, D.C. and Baltimore) were awarded the AIA / Architecture for Humanity 2012 Disaster Plan Grant in order to coordinate advocacy, education and training programs to prepare communities and architects to respond and rebuild post-disaster.

Read about how our Chapters are bringing resiliency to their communities.


Architecture for Humanity D.C. Disaster Response Project
Architecture for Humanity Washington D.C. Chapter

Architecture for Humanity’s D.C. chapter led a collaborative initiative with disaster response entities in Washington, D.C., Engaging D.C. Architects: Resilience By Design, to integrate design professionals in the D.C. metro area to promote resiliency in the disaster response framework.

This robust program helped establish a project to encompass all disaster response phases and provide educational materials to design professionals. AfH-D.C.’s holistic plan falls into four phases of disaster management, addressed with the following:

  1. Preparedness
    Collaborated with established organizations to work on projects such as the Architect’s Guide to Emergency Response, a handbook to form a culture of sustainability and recruitment of architects, to create a D.C. shelter informative map, helping shape local laws, to provide outreach to local architects, and to design and create signage for shelters.
  2. Response
    Provided training for damage assessments and recognition of the safety level of structures, creation of the D.C. Architect’s Disaster Response Team, and coordination of classes with Red Cross, HSEMA, and Neighborhood Core/ Serve D.C.
  3. Recovery
    Facilitated community meetings to discuss creative design opportunities that arise post-disaster, involving residents to city officials. This phase included a research component to establish organizations beneficial in the recovery process, and to discover the most efficient way to establish volunteer networks and training.
  4. Mitigation
    Provided measures that communicated lessons learned from past disasters in hopes of learning from mistakes. This included advisement through policy recommendations.


PoD Charrette with the DC Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Administration

The Chapter's growing program also includes several new projects and initiatives:

  • Members of the Resilient D.C. Initiative, and the Washington D.C. VOAD.
  • Hosted two Disaster Response lecture events. Trained 4 design professionals in CERT and FEMA standards. And established a roster of 40 design professionals in the D.C. area interested in disaster management, and a team of 12 dedicated design professionals from the Washington, D.C. area.
  • Created the National Treasures Project, to investigate disaster response plans and protective measures for D.C.’s monuments and historic structures. The program was inspired by a historic structure in Haiti that was damaged by the 2010 earthquake and later demolished. An analysis of this site was conducted by an AFH-D.C. member and her team, who advocated that if there had been a post-disaster and resiliency plan established, the building would still be standing today.


Disaster Assistance Coordination Network in Maryland
AFH Baltimore Chapter / AIA Baltimore

Architecture for Humanity Baltimore Chapter along with Baltimore AIA established a Disaster Assistance Program and Committee, with the help of Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). This collaboration serves as a liaison between the AIA, emergency management professionals, and the State of Maryland to establish and promote plans to address disaster preparedness and recovery.

This committee was broken down into three sub-committees established amongst 8 permanent members, including Communications and Fundraising, Education, and Outreach and Advocacy.

In February of 2013, the committee hosted a Safety Assessment Program Training, which certified 20 registered professionals and 9 unregistered professionals in the CAL EMA program, mostly from the Baltimore area. With a mixture of small group activities and lectures, each participant was educated on how to be a Safety Assessment Building Evaluator. Due to the success of the program, several participants showed interest in getting involved in the committee.


Safety Assessment Program Training

Some of the long-term goals that the committee wishes to accomplish are establishing placards to be used by local jurisdiction, connecting with organizations like ASCE and Red Cross, and implementing stronger advocacy for resilience issues. The committee is also preparing for Baltimore Architecture Week in October when AIA Baltimore is hosting a talk on rising waters and resiliency.


We thank the hard work and dedication from all awarded chapters in establishing resiliency and disaster awareness in their respective communities, and applaud the work being done that goes beyond the initial grant agreement as team members continue their impactful presence.