Resilient by Design

October 16, 2020
Amy Collins, FSMPS, CPSM & Timothy Yiu, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP &

The climate is changing, bringing new challenges our built environment must meet. Devastation and destruction caused by hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding often call for urgent solutions to help the community bounce back after a crisis. As architects and other professionals in the built environment, we are often called on to offer solutions when disaster strikes. Faced with an immediate obstacle, we seek to maintain or regain public services and support recovery.

But as natural disasters increase in regularity and strength, public and private owners alike must design, plan, and build infrastructure in a way that creates resiliency. How can we be looking ahead and defining the innovative solutions that solve emergencies at hand, while at the same time designing, planning, and building infrastructure in a way that improves and strengthens them for the future?

We must move beyond emergency response and design the places where we live, work, and play with resilience in mind. How can we work together to strengthen the resilience of our communities?

    1. Understand the Risks. Before we reimagine the future, we must understand the potential shocks and stresses on the built environment. Anticipate the significant threats that the structure will face over its lifetime and determine strategies to prepare for them. Consider all possible and likely scenarios, and then start the design process.
    2. Design with Resilience in Mind. Design buildings to withstand severe weather. Plan according to predictive climate modeling in addition to historical patterns. Design to achieve maximum flexibility and adaptivity.
    3. Integrate a Transformative Approach. Move critical infrastructure to higher ground. Bury vital utility lines. Incorporate durable, low maintenance materials to eliminate the potential for toxins to enter the waste stream if a building is damaged.
    4. Invest in Relationships. Partner in your community. Communities can bounce back from adversity when volunteers partner for the common good. Whether you volunteer in the aftermath of a disaster, or to make everyday life better, a strong support network is vital to a cohesive, resilient community.

Embrace a resilience mindset. At Gannett Fleming, we are proud to be part of a team that brings resilience into practice every day. By creating resilient structures—from industrial wastewater pretreatment plants and power substations to dams, transit stations, and school buildings—we strengthen our communities while solving client challenges using triple bottom line solutions. Learn more about how we create resiliency on our website.