With the beginning of hurricane season, the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Disaster Assistance Program and its thousands of architect volunteers stand ready to respond to areas affected by disasters.
“The frequency, severity and cost of disasters is affecting the built environment,” says AIA CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Ivy, FAIA. “With their training and experience, architects possess the skills to design for resiliency and plan for disaster response. It’s critical that officials work with architects to facilitate these processes.”
Since 1972, the AIA Disaster Assistance Program has provided volunteer and professional services to communities, both nationally and internationally, before and after disasters. As part of the program, AIA trains architects to assess the habitability of structures impacted by a disaster. AIA responds to disasters when the need overwhelms authorities having jurisdiction and they request assistance from the AIA. By inviting architects to assist local authorities, those affected can return to their homes and businesses in a shorter amount of time and begin the recovery process. Additionally, architects assist with other building and planning mitigation efforts. On an ongoing basis, the program also:
- Coordinates with local agencies, including emergency management, building and planning
- Provides local and regional planning and policy recommendations on development decisions
- Participates in building code adoption, enforcement and permitting
- Shares lessons learned from post-disaster building safety assessments
- Advocates for Good Samaritan legislation that provides liability protection for design professionals volunteering post-disaster and license portability laws that enable out-of-state assistance
The AIA also offers a “Disaster Assistance Handbook,” for building design professionals, emergency managers, building departments, and state and local officials, which draws upon lessons architects learned during previous disasters to protect and restore the built environment in the future.
Building for resiliency continues to be a focus of the AIA. This year, its “Blueprint for Better,” film, which will launch the its annual film challenge, will feature the collaboration between architects and civic leaders to rebuild Puerto Rican communities after the island was devastated by hurricanes in 2017. The film will debut at the AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City, on June 23.