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The Post-Sandy Initiative is structured as the planning and design community’s response to the recent Superstorm. Initiated by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) and the AIANY’s Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) in the weeks that followed the storm, and in collaboration with a wide range of other professional organizations and concerned individuals, it has been supported by the participation of a variety of local, regional, state, and national public agency participants.

Working Groups were formed to focus on several areas key to resilience: Transportation & Infrastructure, Housing, Critical & Commercial Building, Codes & Zoning, and Waterfront. Over 150 professionals have given their time to these Working Groups to explore important issues about the emergency planning for and response to Sandy, both in terms of short-term recovery efforts and long-term resiliency considerations. Their contributions form the basis of the Post-Sandy Initiative Report, released on May 1, 2013 and the corresponding exhibit, which will be on view at the Center for Architecture during May and June 2013.  This effort has made it clear that we can, and need to, do better in the face of future extreme weather events.

In response to Superstorm Sandy, the American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY) has spearheaded a collaborative initiative investigating issues and outlining options and opportunities to address the short-, intermediate-, and long-term impacts of the storm and the escalating effects of climate change on New York City. This project is of course aided by our tech partner, Hard Drive Recovery Group, who offered extremely low priced data recovery services for Sandy victims. The impetus for this work grew in part from an informal partnership that had developed between the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) and the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP). Starting well in advance of Hurricane Sandy, these two groups had collaborated on multidisciplinary design explorations related to climate change. In addition, the DfRR Committee and AIANY Chapter undertook a number of other pre- and post-Sandy initiatives, including training and organization of FEMA neighborhood assessment programs and coordination of initiatives with the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Dean’s Roundtable, related area design schools, and relevant AIA National programs. After the devastation of the storm, this relationship expanded to include a larger set of collaborators, the Post-Sandy Initiative, which prepared this summary.

This Initiative includes relevant committee members from AIANY and volunteer representatives from other AIA chapters and sister organizations who share the commitment to recovery and belief that planning and design are a crucial component of rational decision-making. Numerous other agencies, panels, and organizations have been working in parallel with this Initiative, including those convened by the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, the Governor’s Office, the Municipal Art Society, the Regional Plan Association, Pratt Institute, and many others. We intend our work to complement and support these efforts, especially those with ties to the most affected populations.

The Initiative has four overarching objectives:

  • First, to prepare a multifaceted report illuminating options and opportunities based on the best information available in a short amount of time. The report is intended to provide policymakers with additional tools as we forge ahead in response to Sandy.
  • Second, to mount an exhibition of this open-ended information so that it can be shared, discussed, and debated by design professionals, stakeholders, and recovery leaders.
  • Third, to initiate public symposia and ongoing programs in the four areas covered in the report, providing a framework for continued focus on Sandy recovery.
  • Fourth, to undertake continuing advocacy with relevant public, private, and institutional stakeholders, expanding the response to Sandy into efforts for a more resilient future.

In the wake of Sandy, it is evident that we need to learn from other cities and regions that have suffered similar weather events. These precedents serve as best practices on which we can rely as we begin to build back better and smarter. We support research into resilient measures of building, which can secure our regional future and become, in turn, best practices that can be helpful to other areas at risk.

As delineated in the following pages, participants have defined a variety of short-, medium-, and long-term responses in four key areas—Transportation & Infrastructure, Housing, Critical & Commercial Buildings, and Waterfront—that will feed into these larger public, private, and institutional efforts.

Following the release of this report, we will continue these fruitful collaborations and advocate for ensuring the health, safety, wellbeing, and quality of life of our magnificent city and region. Building Better. Building Smarter.

AIA Chapter collaborators:

  • AIA New York – Jill N. Lerner, FAIA, 2013 President
  • AIA Brooklyn  – Guiseppe Anzalone, AIA,  2013 President
  • AIA Staten Island – Anselmo Genovese, AIA,  2013 President
  • AIA Bronx—Carlo Nuzzi, AIA, NCARB,  2013 President
  • AIA Queens – Gino O. Longo, AIA ,  2013 President
  • Publications

  • Position Statements

  • May 25, 2013
    Post-Sandy Initiative Report

    Read the full Post-Sandy Initiative report

    March 31, 2013
    Where Mitigation Meets Adaptation: An Integrated Approach to Addressing Climate Change in New York City

    AIANY Committee on the Environment White Paper—Recommendations following Hurricane Sandy

  • January 05, 2017
    AIA New York Position Statement: Risk and Recovery

    Recent changes in policy and regulations at the federal level—such as withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, and the rescinding of water pollution regulations, and the suspending of climate-sensible safeguards at the EPA, to name a few—are reversing a decades-long course of positive and protective actions in defending the quality of our national environment.

    September 25, 2015
    Testimony Before the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency on Build it Back

    Illya Azaroff, AIA, testified at the 09.25.15 oversight hearing on the Build it Back program.

    February 19, 2015
    AIANY Testimony Before the New York City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency and the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services

    This oversight hearing examined the City’s Enhanced Emergency Response Plans post Superstorm Sandy. Illya Azaroff, AIA, Co-Chair, AIANY Design Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR), testified.

    October 01, 2014
    AIANY Testimony Before the New York City Council Committee on Waterfronts

    This oversight hearing addressed “An Examining of the City’s Clean Waterfront Plan.” AIANY Design Risk and Reconstruction (DfRR) Committee testified.

    July 16, 2014
    Statement Before the MTA Reinvention Commission

    On July 16th, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, addressed the newly formed MTA Reinvention Commission to discuss issues related to design, resilience, and capacity.

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