AIA New Jersey Interviewed by WPIX TV Regarding Lightweight Wood Construction

edgewater-fire-chopper-2In the wake of the tragic events of the Avalon at Edgewater fire, Justin Mihalik, AIA, the newly elected President-Elect of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects, was recently interviewed by WPIX TV regarding the use of lightweight wood construction.  You can see the WPIX report here. The report is 5:26 in length.  Justin’s comments start at approximately the 1:59 mark and run through the 3:00 mark.

Granted, the conversation is far more complex than can be explained in one minute of TV time. And, the issue has received significant attention, including legislation proposing mandating fire sprinklers in all residential construction (Bill A1698) and a proposed two-year moratorium on all lightweight wood construction. Given the severity of the event and the public attention, it is more important than ever that architects and AIA New Jersey have a voice in this discussion.

This issue is being actively addressed by our Codes & Standards Committee, chaired by Robert Longo, AIA, our Legistative & Government Affairs Committee, chaired by David Del Vecchio, AIA, our Public Awareness Committee, chaired by Bruce Turner, AIA, our President, Kimberly Bunn, AIA, our Executive Director, Joe Simonetta, and the Executive Committee. Therefore, please make sure you share your opinions with your leaders of AIA New Jersey and your political representatives. Architects cannot stand on the sidelines while others determine the shape of the built environment.

Bruce Turner, AIA
Public Awareness Committee Chair

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  • Leonard Infranca  On April 5, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I watched this new piece and tried to comment on it to the reporter directly. However there is no way to do so as they appear to block comments on both XPIX and YouTube.

    This is an absolutely irresponsible piece of “reporting”. Jay Dow did not properly explain how these materials are allowed and protected within buildings. Instead he showed a video of unprotected wood framing quickly going up in flames by replicating a condition that would never exist in a building. He has misled the viewers and the public.

    This issue of light weight construction, the public’s perception of it’s use in low rise construction, and especially the knee jerk reaction by uninformed public officials needs to be addressed by the AIA and the construction industry smartly and effectively. We must work to avoid rash decisions and legislation that will negatively affect the NJ economy, housing and our industry rather that use this opportunity to improve the current codes and construction standards.

    • jamihalik  On April 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Leonard thank you for your comment. We share your concern and this is the main reason why AIANJ formed this Taskforce, which is to educate the public and our legislators on how the building code requires these materials to be protected when used in multi-family type buildings. Architects understand that there are so many factors that played into the fast spread of the fire at the AvalonBay Edgewater development, not just the fact that lightweight wood construction materials were used. If you viewed the follow up interviews with Aljazeera America and NJ12 News, they did allow for my comments regarding the fact that you cannot just install lightweight wood or nominal wood framing and not protect it, especially in a multi-family construction. This is only part of what needs to be explained to the public and our goal is to tell this story through our report.

      Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

      • Leonard Infranca  On April 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

        Thank you Justin. I fully support our efforts to educate the public and the local officials on the building codes and way in which buildings a constructed . The more we can get the word out and more importantly heard the better off we all will be to provide safe and quality buildings in a practical and affordable manner.

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