Current Domestic Reconstruction and Resiliency Studio Programs


Does your city have a Disaster Response Plan? Do you know what it is? How will your city's architects respond in a disaster event?

Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects (AIA)'s Disaster Resiliency and Recovery Program will coordinate advocacy, education, and training to help architects make effective contributions to communities preparing for, responding to, and rebuilding after disaster. The AIA and Architecture for Humanity are focused on providing the necessary resources to improve existing disaster plans for architects that can better utilize their skills in disaster response environments and allow architects to serve as leaders in their community.


June 5, 2013

The Architecture for Humanity Chapter network has published a publication with including many ideas and topics on the idea of Resiliency. Check out this great report here!

April 17, 2013

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity announced a partnership to coordinate their components and chapters throughout the Unites 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 in SeattleChicago, New York, Baltimore, and Washington D.C..

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 5 cities and the AIA and Architecture for Humanity look toward spreading the program to meet all our components and chapters.

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

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.
Take a look at their final report and learn how the Baltimore Team is changing their community.

Baltimore Disaster Assistance Committee Timeline

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

The Washington D.C. Chapter is working with the D.C. 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.

Follow their story on the updates section of the WorldChanging page.

PoD Charrette with the DC Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Administration

NYC Safety Assessments Trainings
AFH New York Chapter / AIA New York City

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. Read how the New York Chapter is working to build a more resilient future in the New York area.

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.

Post Hurricane Sandy New York Shoreline

Washington State Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR)
AFH Seattle Chapter / AIA Washington

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. Check out the most recent updates on the WorldChanging page.

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!

Illinois Architects’ Emergency Management/Disaster Response Workshops
AFH Chicago Chapter / AIA Chicago / AIA Illinois

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. For more updates, check out the WorldChanging page.

To find out more about the Disaster Plan Grant Program and the 2012 grantees, attend session TH101, "Paving a Path Toward Local Disaster Response and Resiliency" at the AIA National Convention in Denver.

November 30, 2012

The Importance of Resiliency

The recent devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy is a reminder of the importance of resiliency in communities in preparation for future disasters. The unpredictability of natural hazards urges non-profits and the public and private sectors to join forces in building a resiliency network.

Architecture for Humanity is committed to building resilient cites, and provides opportunities for communities to get involved.

The following are a few examples:

  • In 2008, Architecture for Humanity participated in "What If New York...," a design competition sponsored by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) that invited architects, designers, and planners to design temporary housing that could serve dense urban spaces in the wake of a catastrophic hurricane. This program allowed us to get a better understanding on how to frame the issue of reconstruction in a dense urban environment like New York. The team behind it continued the work and was hired by city and regional OEM offices. Many of them have gone on to build their careers around this work, and have been playing key roles in the Sandy recovery response.
  • In November, Architecture for Humanity hosted a disaster panel at our annual Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE! Event. The panel, "Key Practices for Success in Disaster Reconstruction,” featured former Mayor Art Agnos past AIA President Clark Manus, Greensburg Greenstown Director Daniel Wallach and Program Manager Diego Collazos. Speakers discussed how to identify key players in disaster reconstruction, collaborate across sectors, and execute strategies for successful reconstruction. They shared insight into best practices so that others would not have to "wish they would've known" when disaster strikes. Watch the panel discussion here.

As more opportunities come up, we will be posting them here. Stay tuned.

Don't forget to follow us on twitter @AFHDisasterTeam!

November 02, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Response

This week Hurricane Sandy carved a path through the Caribbean before moving up the Atlantic and turning into New Jersey, striking many coastal towns. The storm moved north and created a storm surge that has devastated the New York Metro area. There has been widespread major damage and loss of life.

Right now the need is relief and recovery but very soon it will be long-term reconstruction. Beyond the large scale water and wind damage we need to think about upgrading and restoring in a sustainable manner.

See our Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction page for updates and information regarding our response.

October 09, 2012

Colorado State Hazard Mitigation Program (SHMP) Grant Announcement
COEM Mitigation Team Announces Open Application Period for State Hazard Mitigation Program Grants

The Colorado Office of Emergency Management (COEM) Mitigation Team has opened the application period for State Hazard Mitigation Program (SHMP) grants. Awards are subject to the availability of funds through COEM.

We encourage jurisdictions without a local hazard mitigation plan or those needing to update a plan to use this opportunity to assist in plan development. All local entities applying for pre- or post-disaster FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance program grants must have a FEMA approved local hazard mitigation plan to be eligible.
Activities that will be considered for this grant program include:

  • Local hazard mitigation plans
  • Mitigation studies
  • Purchase of NOAA weather radios
  • Mitigation training materials
  • Printing mitigation information and brochures
  • Mitigation planning activities
  • Hazard Analysis and Risk assessments
  • Hazard mapping projects
  • Risk Communications projects

Activities that are not within the scope of this grant program:

  • Structural projects (projects requiring environmental or historical assessments)
  • Response-oriented equipment

The Mitigation Team is soliciting Grant Applications for this program on a rolling basis. Grant applications must be filled out by the local emergency manager, please download the application to fill it out on your computer. Take a look at theState Hazard Mitigation Program Announcement Letter for more details on how to apply. For questions or comments, contact Scott Baldwin, Interim Mitigation Specialist, at or 720-852-6696.

October 18, 2012

The Great Shakeout offers an opportunity to prepare

On October 18, twelve states and the District of Columbia will be the sites of a coordinated earthquake preparedness drill and AIA National, along with Architecture for Humanity, are encouraging architects to get involved.
By visiting anyone can commit to participating in their own small way by conducting an earthquake drill in their office, creating or revising emergency plans, or simply taking a moment to recognize the seismic hazards in your immediate area.

But this exercise is more than an occasion to prepare your home and office; it can also be an opportunity to connect with other architects or community groups. Local AIA Components and Architecture for Humanity chapters around the country can team up with Girl and Boy Scout troops, after school STEM programs, or other youth groups to discuss the architecture of earthquake resistance in a fun and engaging environment. The drill can even be an opportunity to host a brown-bag continuing education session and networking opportunity over lunch.

Many other ideas and resources for participation and preparedness are available on the website. When you decide how to mark the occasion, be sure to share with AIA National and post to your chapter web page and Worldchanging. We’d love to hear your ideas.

2012 Grant Recipients

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity are pleased to announce the grant recipients for the 2012 Disaster Response Plan Grant.

The AIA and Architecture for Humanity look forward to the positive impact these teams' work will have on their home states as they make progress toward safer and more resilient communities.

The grant recipients are:

Architecture for Humanity D.C. Disaster Response Project
The project aims to engage Washington, D.C., architects in preparing the District’s shelters, helping with post-disaster damage assessment, and allowing architects to serve as leaders in all the communities of our nation’s capital. It also aims to engage D.C. architects in documenting and learning lessons from past disasters.

Washington State Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR)
A new Intrastate Mutual Aid law in the state allows architects, engineers and code officials to receive training and integrate with emergency management, but many of the details are yet to be determined. The DPR will advocate, educate, and train these design professionals to help implement the new law and prepare communities for disaster.

NYC Safety Assessments Trainings
In partnership with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Architecture for Humanity NY (AFHny) will develop a disaster response network and offer periodic trainings in the post-disaster Safety Assessment Program (SAP).

Disaster Assistance Coordination Network in Maryland
The Baltimore AIA, in partnership with the Architecture for Humanity Baltimore chapter, plans to establish an active Disaster Assistance Program for the state of Maryland. 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.

Illinois Architects’ Emergency Management/Disaster Response Workshop
The workshop will have key leaders of AIA Illinois and Architecture for Humanity Chicago work collaboratively to develop an industry-specific comprehensive statewide disaster response plan in an exercise environment working alongside emergency management officials. In addition, develop a post-workshop toolkit for the education of our members in the architect’s role in emergency management in Illinois.