New York Architects Re-Plan a City Under Threat

AIA Forum US

After the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy, those responsible for our built environment, especially in New York, are facing the dawn of a new environmental clime and industry reality. Designing and delivering to the highest safety standards in what were once thought of as safe areas of the world now holds far greater importance than ever before.

A community forum brought together by New York’s Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and held in the city’s Centre for Architecture sparked discussion about the challenges and possible opportunities inherent in ‘Designing the City after Superstorm Sandy.’

The intimate forum did not overlook the personal sorrow and tragedy of Sandy, with chapter president Joseph Aliotta making special mention of those who ‘lost their homes and, others, their lives.’

AIA Forum USOne discussion that is being rehashed across the nation revolves around the role design plays in the recovery process, and what is now to be deemed ‘safe’ in an area of the world that is currently facing a major weather event shift.

The panel of industry experts included Cynthia Barton of the Office of Emergency Management Cynthia Barton, Howard Slatkin of the New York City Planning Department, Columbia University professor of disaster and risk management Dr. Klaus Jacob, Stephen Cassell of the Architecture Research Office and Rob Rogers of Rogers Marvel Architects.

While the panelists said New York’s stable economy and bounty of skilled industry members will make quick and intelligent recovery an achievable reality, New Yorkers are wondering where to begin.

With unparalleled damage done to some of the city’s most vital infrastructure, it is clear that the city is unprepared for these kinds of weather events. The question is, what are the next steps? Do giant water breakers need to become a normal part of coastal planning, or should coastal areas even be built up again?

While these questions cannot be answered in one sitting, it is clear that the city, industry, government leaders and planners are responsive to the general populace and willing to take responsibility for rebuilding the iconic area in a manner that creates a strong and resilient built space.

By Tim Moore
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