AIA/AFH 2012 Disaster Plan Grant Program

Related program: AIA/AFH Disaster Partnership

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity announced a partnership to coordinate their components and chapters throughout the United States to prepare and be resilient against natural disasters. In September, the AIA/ Architecture for Humanity Disaster Response Plan Grant was awarded to the five Architecture for Humanity chapters and AIA components in Washington, DC, Seattle, New York, Baltimore, and Chicago.

Six months later, the grant winners have exercised their leadership in disaster resiliency through local projects and workshops. The grant winners have spearheaded efforts to initiate partnerships with local groups and government agencies, recruit teams of architects interested in resilience and build the chapter's capacity and knowledge in disaster response.

These chapters are committed to continuing their work beyond the grant award. They will continue working in tandem with a vast network of government offices, non-profits, and professional organizations. The foundation for local resilience has been laid in these five cities and the AIA and Architecture for Humanity look toward spreading the program to meet all our components and chapters.

Architecture for Humanity DC Disaster Response Project
The Washington, DC Chapter is working with the DC Department of Health to review designs for their Points of Dispensary (PoDs), which are centers used to dispense medicine in the case of an emergency. The PoDs use existing community facilities, typically recreation centers, to house their operations during the emergency period. The Chapter led design charrettes with health department and emergency management officials to understand the needs and logistics of the PoDs.

The redesign of four PoDs resulted in the an improved floor layout and work flow that would increase the efficiency and capacity of the dispensary, increasing efficiency 8 fold. As a result, the Department of Health asked that the Chapter complete redesigns of the remaining 12 PoDs. The Chapter was also involved in developing signage for the Presidential Inauguration.

In order to document their experiences, the Chapter is publishing the "Architects' Guide to Disaster Response" handbook. The handbook will focus on evaluating and documenting PoDs, establishing a "Disaster Action Team" which will train professionals in disaster response, and studying previous disasters to see how professionals can be utilized to mitigate future damage.

Washington State Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR)
To build a strong network of trained architects, AIA Washington and AFH Seattle partnered with the Structural Engineers Association of Washington (SEAW) to lead Safety Assessment Preparedness trainings throughout the state. They have held a number of Safety Assessment Program Trainings - led by Rachel Minnery, our new New York Regional Program Manager. Rachel has trained over 100 architects! The chapter in collaboration with SEAW, will be hosting a combined education event in Vancouver, WA in May.

Due to the momentum provided by the Disaster Plan Grant to provide training sessions in Western Washington state, AIA Northwest & Pacific Region has asked the Disaster Response Committee, in conjunction with the SEAW, to provide a full day disaster response training session at the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference in Vancouver, BC!

NYC Safety Assessments Trainings
This chapter was put in a unique situation when Hurricane Sandy hit during their disaster grant period. While this event delayed some of the training events scheduled for the grant, it allowed them apply their skills to assist us in various ways. The New York Chapter was instrumental to Architecture for Humanity's Hurricane Sandy response, by leading assessments of neighborhoods and schools, and acting as the eyes and ears on the ground for headquarters immediately following the event. Their rapid response, existing disaster network and knowledge of disaster response during the event was invaluable to headquarters response.

In partnership with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the New York Chapter is further developing their disaster response network and offering periodic Safety Assessment Program (SAP) trainings. The goals of the program are to: train local architects and building professionals to assess structures post disaster, register trained professionals to SAP network, raise awareness of post-disaster issues, and to create a local community of disaster responders.

As a means to build chapter response capacity for future disasters, an HQ-led disaster training was held for the New York Chapter on March 16th and 17th. This two-day training event was held by Architecture for Humanity's Director of the Reconstruction and Resiliency Studio, Eric Cesal, visiting from San Francisco.

Disaster Assistance Coordination Network in Maryland
Architecture for Humanity Baltimore chapter in partnership with AIA Baltimore created Maryland's first Disaster Assistance Program with help from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) . This group will liaise between the state emergency management agencies, AIA, and other emergency management professionals in the region to develop plans and programs to address disaster preparedness and recovery. The Baltimore team recruited a team of volunteer architects to plan and participate in MEMA workshops, a Safety Assessment Program training, and regular monthly meetings to continue developing the Disaster Assistance Toolkit and to continue the conversation about resilience in their city and state.
Illinois Architects’ Emergency Management/Disaster Response Workshop
By connecting with key leaders and groups in the communities, the Chicago chapter has been able to share resources, discuss common goals and strategies, and look for areas of institutional overlap or areas where each organization can leverage its particular strengths. Multiple meetings and workshops have now taken place, including a State Level Exercise (SLE), which has given enough information to finalize the program for the disaster response workshops. Through the support of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the workshops have included not only AIA Illinois and AFH Chicago members, but also municipal officials, IEMA staff, members of the State Incident Response Center (SIRC), and representatives from the Illinois Capital Development Board.

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