Overview: Planning and Responding to Disasters

Floods. Fires. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. The list of possible disasters goes on but no area on Earth is immune. Mankind has not yet figured out a way to fully protect its built environment from impact but architectural design can go a long way to mitigate possible losses. Architects and engineers also can help with recovery, in some cases rebuilding smarter.

Page has examples of planning and designs to increase resiliency in the face of disasters as well as recovery efforts. See below for related posts about Page's work in these areas and excerpts of their content:

Nurturing Resiliency through Relationships
Elements of The Dell Medical School Health Learning Building design were evidence-based and intended to counteract factors proven by research to contribute to student burnout. The project facilitates continuous engagement and team-based learning, which creates a sense of community among students. 

Planning to Shape San Antonio's Future
Page will approach The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) landmark multicampus master plan from a holistic perspective, examining social equity, resilience and community engagement and ensuring flexibility to accommodate cultural changes driven by technological advances.

Learning By Design: Planning For A New Campus
A key driver of the vision for the 128-acre remediation site of central Oregon’s first four-year university is comprehensive resilience. For example, the OSU-Cascades long-range development plan is designed to achieve triple net zero water, energy, and waste goals as the institution grows. Social resilience will be achieved through integration with the local community through the promotion of arts, culture, enrichment, health, wellness, and sustainability.

Houston’s Road to Resilience Requires a Broad Holistic Plan
An op-ed written by two Pagers recommends a plan of action for the wise allocation of Hurricane Harvey recovery funds across the city of Houston and Harris County, saying, “Whatever specific projects garner support and receive funding, they must deliver environmental, social and economic returns on investment… While the environmental arguments are obvious, there are compelling economic and social imperatives for resiliency as well…. We’re optimistic that Harvey will be the catalyst that launches Houston’s transformation into a resilient city.”

Nurturing Creative, Independent and Resilient Learners
According to the Resilient Design Institute, the social aspects of resilience can be as important as the physical responses because social relationships are protective of mental health. “Strong, culturally diverse communities in which people know, respect, and care for each other will fare better during times of stress or disturbance.” Page designed a new campus for Magnolia Montessori For All in east Austin, which intentionally created a racially, culturally and socioeconomically diverse community. “We have observed that when you change the programming and the architecture, you change people.”

Influencing AIA’s Role in Influencing Architectural Education
Page Senior Principal James M. Wright, FAIA, points out students are ideally suited to support research into the many facets of sustainability, adaptability, and resilience, providing them with first-hand awareness of the interlocking relationship with planning and design. They will take this scientifically based research orientation into their postgraduate professional careers. Thus the AIA is well-positioned to link practicing professionals to academic research groups to ensure research is directed at practical applications.

Cooking Up Community Resilience
Designers have traditionally considered resilience in the built environment as it relates to environmental catastrophes such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. Now, that way of thinking is expanding to examine the influence of the built environment on brain health, emotional and physical well-being, empathy for others and connection to one’s community. Interior Design Magazine recognized that element in the new Ottobock North America Headquarters project.  

Facing Down Flooding with Resilient Design
After Tropical Storm Allison dumped a then-record amount of rainfall on the city of Houston, flooding the world-renown Texas Medical Center in the process, facility leaders immediately began planning to incorporate lessons learned into resilient designs to help withstand the next massive storm. Page worked closely with clients to harden existing infrastructure against future damage and their efforts paid off during Hurricane Harvey. 

Is Resilience In Communities Important?
Experts are resoundingly answering “yes!” Page hosted a recent discussion on that very topic with clients from recent projects. The discussion was led by the editor-in-chief of Metropolis Magazine, a national publication that examines contemporary life through design, architecture, interior design and more. This article contains specific examples of the impact of resilient design on community members and project users and a video of the discussion. 

Join the conversation: Page and Metropolis Magazine tackle resilience on 4/4/18
Join Page in our Austin office or via Facebook live on Wednesday, April 4 for a Metropolis Think Tank panel: Architecture, Resiliency and Community. 1.5 AIA CEU HSW credits are available, whether you attend in-person or online. Metropolis Magazine editor-in-chief Susan S. Szenasy, leaders from Page and a diverse panel of guests will tackle the topic of resilience, with a particular focus on its social dimension. According to the Resilient Design Institute, “...social aspects of resilience can be as important as physical responses.” ​

Mitigating Losses from Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can occur anywhere at anytime. Since 2001, Page has a proven record of success with national clients assisting in the recovery of well over a billion dollars in losses. Our comprehensive mitigation strategies currently protect many of the world’s largest healthcare, research and academic enterprises and institutions including multinational integrated oil & gas companies. These strategies can protect clients from extensive losses through proven methodologies and tools to quickly and efficiently return their infrastructure to normal business.

Introducing The Campus Resilience Series
In the past year, the United States has suffered an astonishing number of natural disasters that claimed lives and caused a record amount of property damage. Now, the ongoing conversation around creating resilient communities, which includes economic, social, and cultural resilience, has expanded to include average citizens and heightened the urgency among planning and design professionals. Page Urban Designer Katharyn Hurd, AICP, is doing her part with a new initiative.​

ULI Case Study: Buffalo Bayou Park Resilience
Buffalo Bayou Park was designed for resilience but no one imagined how severely it would be tested: historical floods two years in a row, then Hurricane Harvey in its third year of existence. Yet, the park has recovered each time and been evaluated for lessons learned. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently completed a case study of the resilience of this extraordinary project, which was honored with a 2017-2018 ULI Global Award of Excellence. 

Designing A Resilient Future
Resilience in our work at Page is multi-faceted. Since 2001, our mitigation team has successfully come to the assistance of many of the world’s largest healthcare, research and academic enterprises, companies and institutions recover from well over a billion dollars in flood losses. At the start of our design projects, we work with owners during site selection to assess environmental risk against financial opportunity, ensure continuity of core services in the midst of disasters, and work with campuses and developers to create catalytic projects that strengthen communities and build economic stability. We also use our project experience to advocate and facilitate policy discussions within our cities to move us all towards a more resilient future.

Ten Things To Do Once Flooded
Page Principal Jeff Willis has been involved in flood mitigation for more than 15 years, providing services to companies and institutions affected by floods along the Texas Gulf Coast caused by storms such as Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. The facilities assessed, remediated and restored after floods have represented hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. He compiled a list of ten tips to begin the process of facility recovery after a flood. 

Scott Tucker on Shielded Facilities
Page Principal and electromagnetic pulse expert Scott Tucker, who has testified before legislative bodies on the topic, answered a series of questions about shielded facilities: why they are needed, what types of facilities can offer this protection, what design considerations to discuss in advance and more. 

Operational Wellness
The newly-opened Quarry Run Regional Operations Center first-responder facility serves multiple counties, some of which are the fastest growing in the US. Its state-of-the-art emergency and network operations, public safety answering point (PSAP), data centers and hardened core were featured in BD+C Magazine (Building Design + Construction). The article explains how a single facility consolidates operations previously spread out among 25 locations. In addition to operational functionality, Quarry Run also was designed to to maintain occupant wellness in very stressful jobs.

Restoring Workplace Functionality After A Disaster
While most companies have business continuity plans, they're not always detailed enough to address steps for restoring interior workspaces after different types of disasters. Some universal tips can help property management teams fast track the beginning of the damage assessment and mitigation processes by providing guidance on insurance documentation, initiating clean-up, suggestions on determining whether to restore or replace furnishings and options for replacements, whether temporary or permanent. 

The Proven Value of Resilient Design
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Houston to suffer the effects of the record-setting floodwaters from then-tropical storm Harvey was the national award-winning Buffalo Bayou Park.  While floods were indeed expected due to the park’s location within a floodplain, no one anticipated three record-level floods in three years, with Harvey setting a new high water mark. Architect Magazine examined its survival and shared lessons in success to create an opportunity in resilient design for the design community at large.  

Integrating Resilience Into University Campus Planning
Page Associate Principal Elizabeth Foster co-authored an article in Planning for Higher Education, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Journal. It explains that  incorporating resilience into the campus planning process provides an opportunity to engage key stakeholders to address a campus’s vulnerabilities, align resilience-related investments with the broad campus vision, and ensure the long-term viability of the institution.

Designed for Survivability
Bexar Metro 9-1-1 Network executive leaders wanted a regional operations center with maximum survivability, one that anticipated natural and man-made disasters, and could function independently in the case of catastrophic event. The architects and engineers at Page collaborated from the start to ensure integrated design. Because of its unique function as both call center and potential emergency operations center, this facility has a more complex infrastructure than virtually any other building type. It is simultaneously a workplace, where people spend the majority of their day, and in the event of an emergency, it becomes an operations center capable of crisis management and sustained emergency communications with first responders.​

Run From The Water: AIA Storm Surge & Flooding Symposium
The city of Houston is particularly prone to flooding events due to its elevation close to sea level and its system of natural waterways that are quick to spill out of their banks. After two extensive floods in 2015 and 2017, AIA Houston teamed up with elected officials from the City of Houston and Harris County to hold a storm surge and flooding symposium that would discuss recurring flood-related challenges. Page Principal John Clegg and Page Designer Marcus Martinez co-coordinated the event on behalf of AIA Houston.

IEMI / HEMP Protection
Page specializes in incorporating IEMI/HEMP (Intentional Electromagnetic Interference / High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse) protection into facility design during the planning stage. Any facility that depends on electronics and the availability of electricity for control, security, communications and information technology is vulnerable to these threats. We are particularly proud to have designed two of the first EMP-shielded electric transmission control centers in the nation. 

The Role of Architecture in Protecting Cities From Flooding
Although flooding at coastal levels is inevitable under the right circumstances, architecture can play a significant role in reducing loss of life and property damage. The industry is increasingly aware of its responsibility to take climate conditions into consideration during the design phase of its projects but also of the need to collaborate with area stakeholders to accomplish this goal. Page Principal John Clegg, a flooding expert and a planning expert discussed issues to be addressed by cities at risk of flooding.

Addressing Changes in University Demographics and Needs
Page Associate Principal Elizabeth Foster explains the importance of applying the lens of social resilience in campus planning. Her current work with the University of California Santa Cruz can serve as a model for other institutions in becoming more physically, socially, and financially resilient.

Testing The Waters: Update on Buffalo Bayou Park
An extensive flood in 2015 delayed the opening of the urban Buffalo Bayou Park project but due to resilient design in anticipation of this natural regional challenge, none of the Page-designed structures in the park were flooded or damaged. The buildings were deliberately sited above the flood plain, with the exception of the lower level of the Lost Lake Building, which was designed to take on water. A gallery of photographs illustrates this concept. 

To begin planning, designing and mitigating the effects of disasters on facilities, contact the following Page focal points: