We believe that architects and other allied design professionals have a moral and professional obligation to be collaborative leaders in disaster recovery. While we are generally last responders that enter the disaster landscape (typically 3-6 months after response starts), we do become active during the response and relief efforts, helping communities assess the damaged environment and prepare for recovery.
It is our duty to reconstruct the built environment responsibly, resiliently, sustainably; guiding the communities we work with to become better and more prepared for future events. Our experience highlights the fact that the vulnerable populations of where we live are affected the most in disasters.
Disasters often provide unique opportunities to identify and propose corrective measures to benefit our built environment and its relationship with nature. With the reality of climate change, these events and the necessary precautions will become ever more important. We use design to provide timeless solutions that proactively prepare communities for the future.
disaster typically occurs in three stages:
Response, Relief, Recovery. All of which we aim to embed with resiliency. Response refers to the immediate efforts after a disaster. These typically include matters of life safety and most measures are temporary. Relief employs measures that linger somewhere between temporary and permanent. They acknowledge that true recovery takes years, and that in that process, residents and communities must have semblance of stability. Recovery is by far the longest stage and the one that often struggles to maintain funding. The event has often left the media, and yet, residents do not have their lives back. It is where our largest calling is as architects. While we may enter in the relief phase, design and construction takes years, and that is where get our name of "the last responders."
We believe that design is a tool to be used to service a community in need; what we fondly refer to as humanitarian architecture. We believe that the intertwining of social connectedness, positive economic growth, and a supportive built environment creates the trifecta that our communities need to thrive. A measurement of this achievement can be found in the civic spaces of the built environment. It is found in the government and non-government offices; in the community centers, the schools, the public facilities, and the health centers...all are necessary to increase the vitality of the community.
The design professional should be intentional in providing those spaces and ensure they are inherently positive to the people using them. If these spaces have been damaged, they need to be recovered. If these spaces do not exist, they need to be built. If these spaces are underutilized, they need to be enhanced. Our role in the development of civic spaces is a local and global task, one that we will follow where it is needed.