The Challenges of Post-Disaster Design

Courtesy of Flickr User mansunides

In the wake of the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, architects were asking: “couldn’t we have avoided this?” Technically, yes. But while the opportunity to build better exists, such measures are often expensive – and in poverty-stricken areas like the Philippines – cost-prohibitive. A recently published article by Carey Dunne on Co.Design breaks down why disaster-proof construction is such a complex challenge.

MASS Design Group’s Proposal to Reconstruct Haitian Hospital

© MASS Design Group

In September 2012, the Haitian Ministry of Economy and Finance called for the reconstruction of the hospital of the State University of Haiti, a medical facility located in the heart of Port-au-Prince that has been operating in ruins since the 2010 earthquake. After the Ministry received large development grants from the US and France, the challenge for designers was to create an earthquake resistant hospital within the $48 million budget, while also phasing the construction to maintain an operational capacity of 500 beds. MASS Design Group was one of the design teams to come up with such a proposal.

For the team’s project description, read on.

East River Blueway Plan / WXY Studio: New York City’s Plan for Flood Barrier Along East River

East River Blueway Plan / WXY Studio

The City of has long awaited renovations to the East River Greenway. Squeezed between the FDR Drive to the west and the river to East, there are a few scattered public parks connected by a path that has been weathered and torn apart over the years. The proposed “Blueway” is a coordinated collaboration – between Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Boards 3 and 6, State Assembly Member Brian Kavanaugh, and ’s WXY architecture and urban design - that takes suggestions from the general public to develop a scheme that works within the framework of the existing Greenway and provides specific sites waterfront access, development of wetlands and greater connectivity to the city and its waterways.

The stretch along the Greenway, which is the focus of WXY’s scheme, runs from Midtown East at 38th street to the Brooklyn Bridge. Running along the FDR, this area expands towards the river and finds its way under the highway’s overpass. Unlike the Hudson River Parkway along the West Side Highway, the East River Greenway has meager waterfront access and few piers to facilitate its development.  A study, executed by several city departments in 2011, determined ways to improve amenities along the Greenway and proposed incorporating elements such as ambient lighting and street furniture.  Now the focus has shifted to the river itself to determine ways in which to increase its usability and accessibility   After revealed the vulnerability of the hard edge of the East River, these same design considerations are now being used to create a resistant and effective buffer against future storm surges.

See what’s happening at the East River Blueway Plan after the break.

The Zachary House / Stephen Atkinson Architecture

Site Plan; ©

The story of the Zachary House, designed by Stephen Atkinson Architectureis one of idealism of the profession and faith to the design.  In three iterations, the house that was originally designed for Atkinson’s own parents went from being the incarnation of the architect’s own ideal image, revered by both modernists and traditionalists, to a highly protected “manuscript” of an architectural vision.  The house was originally built in the 90′s in Zachary, Louisiana, where it gained a substantial amount of attention from other residents and the media for its blend of the “dog trot” and “shotgun” style homes.  The house, now in its third life, was built under specific conditions that maintained every element of its distinctive design.

Join us after the break to find out more.