Post Sandy Symposium – A View From the Students

By John M. Desousa, Sabrina Raia, and Brittany Locke

As students of NJIT, we have joined AIAS to network and attend events that challenge us to think of our future. The Post Sandy regional event dealt with the realities of the storm and presented the action suggested for architects to take in the event of another super storm. The symposium opened up with presentations from various AIA members from New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut chapters on their views on Superstorm Sandy.

The next step should be in rebuilding and preventing for the future.

The speakers were brief yet critical to the goal of presenting their projects related to Sandy relief. Some presentations we recognize but ‘right place, right time’ made the event speak as a whole. AIA NJ presented a real project in Camp Osbourn that stands as an example of how to design around a real zoning problem for Brick Township. We all have questions when 110 houses get destroyed and zoning calls for 16 to get rebuilt. The reality of the projects set the tone for the necessity to learn from each other at a regional level. They brought up some very crucial topics like new zoning laws and code requirements and also some inspirational design ideas for the future.

After the presentations, AIA members followed with workshops on the 3 cities in North Jersey: Jersey City, Hoboken, and Newark. Quick responses for protecting the city of floods open debate and discussion. We feel the workshop opened up opportunities for the right people to work together from different states, inform each other things can happen, and preparing, in some cases, for any nature disaster.

As a student, the presentations were a lot to take in at first. Some ideas and problems were minutely foreign to me, but it presented the opportunity for me to know what we will deal with very shortly. I have volunteered as much as we could with cleanup and rebuilding, but sitting in a room of architects while studying to be an architect really presents itself intensely. The final workshop presentations were interesting in the issues that were presented. The regional level reaches political standpoints and proposals of a flood wall like in Jersey City and Hoboken pushed out into the river. I find this possible and those new riverfront properties will be a pretty penny.

– John

As a student new to the Post Sandy Symposium Event, I did not know what to expect from that day’s event. For many of us, even though superstorm sandy affected multiple areas in the north east region, we were considered to be bias to the direct affects happening in our area. For me, it was very powerful to see local architects from neighboring states crossing boarders in order to help a greater cause and make a positive out of something truly disastrous. I truly believe the

most powerful part of the symposium was when multiple presentations hinted about how the aftermath of superstorm sandy relief is not to focus on one general area but the larger spectrum. By having 4 AIA State programs working together for the first time on a better way to help the community it shows how architects can learn, work, and share ideas together even in the hardest times in history. Now multiple states do not need to waste time each handing the same general problems in their community but instead share knowledge and designs in order to allow for faster relief and knowledge about future storms.

-Brittany

One erratic presentation during the symposium was by Henk Ovink from the Netherlands on how they live with water. The Netherlands would be 70% underwater right now if it wasn’t for their ingenious engineering that was implemented. This was done through The Delta Works which is a series of dykes, dams, sluices, and locks. He was suggesting that we look towards the Netherlands for advice on how to prevent disaster from happening again. This isn’t a new idea, before the storm hit MoMA mounted a prescient exhibition entitled Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront which featured drawings for and models for multidisciplinary teams. I have done some research on this and the Netherlands because I was the student ambassador for the NJIT Alternative Spring Break. It was great to see more people discussing this issue now and looking towards the Netherlands on a broader scale. I think it is important to look at what other places have done already. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; we can all learn from each other.

-Sabrina

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