Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What architects can do after a natural disaster?

Furnishings on the streets of Red Hook, which suffered extensive flooding.

I am sharing an excerpt from an article in, just to pick up up the attention of architects and/or designers.
I have been lucky of not being in a natural disaster, apart from the huge storms in Buenos Aires, but I´m conscious that in catastrophes we shouldn´t be up on a pedestal just watching others work while thinking on the next competitions about the reconstruction of cities.
Up till now, the best example I´ve seen is this one, architects from New York, after Hurricane Sandy, helping in the aftermath, like anybody else.
Though, I still have noticed this issue of the licenses. The article clearly divides ¨architect with license¨ and designer (and the word could mean architect without license in USA). In my opinion, if experience is needed in catastrophes the authorities should ask for CVs-proof of expertise instead of licenses. This issue is clear in the context of the article.

Can architects put their services to use in the days and weeks following a natural disaster? We look at the Sandy-ravaged New York region as a case study.
 By C. J. Hughes

 More than two weeks ago, on October 29, Hurricane Sandy barreled ashore in the New York region, destroying what could end up being thousands of homes. But architects eager to help rebuild have little to do, at least when it comes to anything requiring their professional skills. At some point, designers who can determine a home’s structural damage will be needed, according to organizers of the relief operations in hard-hit coastal areas. But for now, these areas need volunteers who can clear debris, deliver food, and help people up and down darkened stairs. “There are still boats in people’s living rooms. There are still photo albums that belong to grandmothers that need to be salvaged. And this phase isn’t going away anytime soon,” says Thomas Thomas, a founder of Staten Island Strong, a relief group that has brought about 500 volunteers each weekend since the storm hit Staten Island’s South Shore. Continue. Thomas, who normally works on fashion shows and other events, hasn’t kept track of how many architects are in his crews, though he plans to create a database of members’ occupations soon. However, he suggests that any architects interested in rebuilding register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get properly ID’ed, so as to streamline the rebuilding process when it starts. “I can’t have just anyone walking in with a sledgehammer and taking out a load-bearing wall,” he says. FEMA didn’t return a call for comment.

John Cary, a design consultant who cofounded the nonprofit Public Architecture and runs the site Public Interest Design, agrees. (Cary also is a juror for the Architizer A+ Awards.) “There is a real need for people on the ground right now, and there will be for months,” says Cary, who has spent two weekends with Staten Island Strong stripping down houses to their studs to remove soggy dry wall and protect against mold. One potential hitch: Architects aren’t legally allowed to perform damage assessments as volunteers; New York doesn’t currently have any “good Samaritan” laws to protect them against any future lawsuits, like many states do. But Cary, who isn’t a licensed architect, hopes designers still pitch in with related tasks. “I would hate to think architects are sitting around because of lack of Good Sam laws,” he says.


Seaside Park, New Jersey. After Sandy's devastation. Photo by Jo Hendley.
This picture reminds me Ray Bradbury's stories. Impressive

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