Designing for Disasters

Ricardo A. Alvarez presented a paper – Characterization of Impact: a Tool for Designing for Disaster – and guided an educational tour of the Hurricane Warning – Disaster Survival House, Deerfield Beach, Florida, during the 2010 AIA National Convention hosted by the American Institute of Architects, June 8 – 12, 2010 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

In his paper Ricardo explains that the interaction of human activity with natural hazards makes our communities vulnerable, placing human life and property, our buildings and infrastructure – the built environment -the full range of human activity at risk of potential damage from the impact of such hazards.

Ricardo submitted that: Architects, and other building-design and construction professionals have a professional obligation of knowing and understanding what vulnerability is, how damage occurs during hazard events, and how to mitigate the potential for damage to the built environment and supporting infrastructure from recurring impacts.

In consequence Ricardo’s advice to architects and building-design professionals is: before designing a building for a vulnerable site, characterize the impact of potential hazards. Characterization of impact is a tool that sets a solid foundation to establish design-criteria for a building on the basis of site-specific vulnerability and natural and human factors that have the capability of modifying the impact of hazards at that site.

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