AIA Responds to Hurricane Katrina

Washington, D.C., September 20, 2005--As part of its on-going response to Hurricane Katrina, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has established a number of initiatives to help architects affected by this disaster. The “Displaced Architects Fund” is accepting donations to provide immediate financial assistance to architects and their teams. The AIA has also created an online “registry” where displaced architects can request the necessary tools (computers, telephones, furniture, etc.) they need to operate. Additionally, an online “matching” service has been developed to provide a central database with posting a search capability to match those looking for work or accommodations with those offering positions or space. “While we are deeply saddened by the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and all of the lives that have been affected, we are encouraged by how the architecture profession has pulled together at both the local and national level. The generous response so far will be instrumental in ensuring that displaced architects have the opportunity to continue working during this turbulent time,” said AIA chief executive officer Norman L. Koonce, FAIA. To participate in any of these services, or to volunteer for an AIA Disaster Assistance Program: "It is imperative that we take the necessary time to apply the best possible design and planning principles so that we are not forced to deal with unwise decisions made out of haste," Koonce says. The American Institute of Architects advocates the following rebuilding positions: • Because these facilities will be used for an extended period of time by residents, transitional housing arrangements must be approached with the basic design principles that go into developing a livable community • Planning to address the immediate needs for shelter must be done in concert with a long-term rebuilding plan to avoid making hasty decisions that will hamstring future efforts • To maintain viability of local architecture firms, as well as the spirit and character of the affected regions, local architecture firms should be sub-contracted by the large companies awarded rebuilding contracts by the federal government. The American Institute of Architects is currently working on numerous federal legislative priorities including: • Historic preservation: the AIA, along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, proposes tax incentives and federal grants to assist in the preservation and rebuilding of Katrina-damaged structures • Good Samaritan Law: the AIA favors federal and state legislation to protect design professionals from liability during the voluntary provision of free services in times of emergency and natural disaster • School construction, repair, and modernization: the AIA proposes a $200 million federally-funded project should be initiated to meet the urgent need to replace and rebuild schools in the affected regions and to use 21st century design standards to enhance the learning environment for children • New Community Demonstration Projects: the AIA seeks federal funding for ten redevelopment projects in the impacted region to create incentive packages for the planning, design, development, and construction of new, well-designed community clusters in decimated areas.

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