How Can Architects Get Involved in Haiti Disaster Relief?

How Can Architects Get Involved in Haiti Disaster Relief?

By C. J. Hughes

Like many architects, George Gekas saw the destruction caused by a massive earthquake in Haiti and wondered how he could tap his talents to help.

But, as the resident of Mt. Desert Island, Maine, placed phone calls and clicked around the Internet, he realized options for immediate, hands-on action were limited. “It was very frustrating,” he said. “I thought, ‘There’s no time to waste.’”

“It’s just going to take a really long time before people start focusing on construction,” says Cameron Sinclair of AFH.

Gekas’s experience, which is not unique, illustrates a larger point. The scene after the January 12 quake, which killed up to 200,000 people, is still so unsettled and chaotic that the need for design professionals is still a long ways off, according to aid workers, government leaders, and disaster experts.

Indeed, architects are roundly being encouraged to donate money instead of lending hands, says Cameron Sinclair, director of Architecture for Humanity, a not-for-profit that focuses on humanitarian crises.

“It’s just going to take a really long time before people start focusing on construction,” says Sinclair, who’s become a major force in the relief effort because of his extensive contacts in the island nation. Before the quake, Sinclair had been designing a sports facility in Haiti that could double as a hurricane shelter.

In the eight days following the 7.0-magnitude quake, Sinclair received 7,000 e-mails, with many from unemployed architects eager to pitch in. But until he meets with world leaders to discuss strategies, Sinclair cannot offer anybody positions. In the meantime, he says, the $100,000 he raised online will go a long way. (For his part, Gekas donated to OxFam International.)

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is also taking somewhat of a wait-and-see approach, even if it eventually aims to put up sturdy, environmentally friendly homes like it did in New Orleans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says spokesperson Marie Coleman. “We definitely want to be a part of the rebuilding process.”

While the details are ironed out, the USGBC is encouraging people to donate via the Web site of the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund, an effort organized by former President Bill Clinton.

“Haiti at the moment is pretty much the last place you want to put a group of enthusiastic, well-meaning architects,” says architect Robin Cross, a director of Article 25, a London-based not-for-profit named for the part of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees housing. “What you need now is water, food, and medical supplies,” says Cross, adding that he is recruiting architects for long-term planning, with more than 200 already signed up.

About the only out-of-town architects now on the ground may be the seven employed by the Emergency Architects Foundation, a Paris-based first-responder-type organization that lays the groundwork for future building through block-by-block inventories of destruction.

Plus, because there’s so much fear among residents that aftershocks will send more structures tumbling, Haitians “need professional advice about whether they can enter this building or that building,” says director Alice Moreira.

Among the first to build houses in Haiti, or at least simulacra of them, may be Habitat for Humanity International, whose on-island staff of 40 was unharmed by the quake, says senior director Kip Scheidler.

With 200,000 homes destroyed and 1.2 million people homeless, Haiti is poised to receive its first tarp-and-panel “shelter kits,” with 4,000 arriving in the next few weeks, Scheidler says.

And they will likely be set up on the edges of the city, where there’s more land to work with, he adds, rather than in downtown Port-au-Prince, which is glutted with smashed concrete slabs that speak to the country’s lack of building codes.

“There was no one to ever say, ‘There’s not enough rebar in there,’” he says, “or, ‘There’s not enough sand in the cement.’ ”

While opportunities for working architects to set foot on Haiti, or design for it, may be scarce for now, ideas are abounding on campuses.

At the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, for instance, students will grab hammers to team with the nearby Building Goodness Foundation, a charity that’s already constructed homes in Haiti. Those homes are “still standing, so that’s a good start,” says dean Kim Tanzer.

And at the College of Environmental Design at U.C. Berkeley, the faculty is mulling a fall-term studio in Haiti that will feature hands-on design work, in the spirit of what’s been done in Kenya in the past, says spokesperson Kathleen Maclay.

Local AIA chapters are starting to brainstorm, too. After some of Seattle’s 2,000 members started calling up looking to assist Haiti, the chapter put together a “Diversity Roundtable” with representatives from the Red Cross and other relief groups, in order to strategize what could be done down the road.

“The culture of Seattle is very community-minded, sure,” says executive director Lisa Richmond. “But I think architects also see themselves as responsible world citizens.”


Cinematic: Torreira Portugal Sunset

Torreira Portugal Sunset

Torreira Portugal Sunset

In February 2010 I dedicated the month to raising awareness for Haiti relief.  I donated 100%+ of the proceeds my photographic art to “Architecture For Humanity” the “Red Cross” and “UNICEF.”  It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life.  I wanted to set an example for my 3 sons that there is more to living than just making money.  This photographic image was the best seller so I am sharing it here with you.  If you are interested in donating you can still do so by visiting my online store gallery and following us online on Twitter and Facebook.


FC3 HAITI – Where Your Donations Are Going


Cameron Sinclair and Peter Haas of AIDG on Haiti Redevelopment


Reconstruction from Haiti Onward on Vimeo.


FC3 HAITI – Volunteer Opportunities

Dear Friends,

I would like to share the following news about Architecture for Humanity with you.

Immediate Needs:
Currently our field team are looking to fill the following immediate needs urgently. If you can help, please
email us.

1) Diesel SUV (any brand, Toyota easiest to repair and maintain in Haiti)
2) Creole/French Speaking Design Fellows. Please see the design fellow opportunity This is a great opportunity to give back and be a part of the long-term recovery effort.
2) Structural Engineers (on-going). Please
sign-up to volunteer if you are interested.
3) House Share: We’re considering renting house if you are working in the area and want to share accomodation, please
email us. We can let you know what the rates would be.

Team on the Ground:

Our program management team is currently on the ground in Haiti. It includes two regional program managers…. Learn more.

School Site Visits:

Work is beginning on the Haiti School Initiative. Our Haiti team recently paid a visit to Cité Soleil–an extremely impoverished neighborhood of Port-au-Prince–to evaluate the conditions of schools affected by the quake… Learn more.

StudentsRebuild

We’re very excited to be partnering with the
Bezos Family Foundation and Global Nomads Group to inspire students to support and follow the long-term recovery effort in Haiti. We’ll be working with middle and high school students over the coming years. Know a smart kid?

Haiti Inflation
We’re beginning to put together preliminary costing for schools and managing the reconstruction program. Inflation means that our funds will be stretched to the limit.
Milk? $12.

If you are working on costing, email us and let’s share notes.

Volunteer Opportunities:
Our goal is to invite volunteers to support projects in the field starting in the summer. This is contingent logistics and security on the ground. If you read the cost information above, you’ll see that housing and transport are going to be hurdles. If you are interested in going, we’ll be sending a followup email with instructions in the coming weeks. Please look out for it.

Please Note: Architecture for Humanity‘s funding is limited. All volunteers will need to cover the costs of their own travel, food and accomodation. More details to come!

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this effort or would like to get involved to help our cause please contact me via text, email, or phone.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III – Architect & Visual Artist
Blog http://fc3haiti.blogspot.com/
Gallery
http://fc3arch.zenfolio.com/
PO Box 335 Hamburg NJ 07419
973.970.3551 / fc3haiti@me.com


Share/Bookmark


FC3 HAITI – EVENT FIVE – "Comedy for a Cause" @ the 19th Hole

Dear Friends,
Please join us on Saturday, April 24th to support relief efforts in Haiti.

WHAT: COMEDY FOR A CAUSE
WHERE: The 19th Hole @ Meadows Golf Club, 79 Two Bridges Road, Lincoln Park, NJ, Tel. (976) 696-9741

WHEN: Saturday Night, April 24th @ 7:00 PM Dinner & 9 PM Show Time

SPECIALS: Dinner & Show with Complimentary Drink – $40.00 per person (Special Price -Show Only $15 per person). The 19th Hole has agreed once again to donate $5.00 from each ticket sales to A.F.H.!!! (Thanks Joe Branco!)

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Donate $10.00-$50.00 for 5×7, 8×10, 11×17 PhotoGraphic Artwork by Frank Cunha III – 100% #Art proceeds will go to Architecture for Humanity to assist with them with their Haiti relief and rebuilding efforts.

RSVP: Click Here

Thank You Joe for making this happen!!! Special thanks to Kris Thampi Thamp ofAlphaGraphics of Wayne-Totowa as well for donating the prints so that 100% of the funds raise go directly to Architecture for Humanity, 501(c) non-profit organization which is helping bring Architects and Builders together to redesign and rebuild Haiti. For more specific info about this charity please click here.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this effort or would like to get involved to help our cause please contact me via text, email, or phone.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III – Architect & Visual Artist
Blog http://fc3haiti.blogspot.com/
Gallery
http://fc3arch.zenfolio.com/
PO Box 335 Hamburg NJ 07419
973.970.3551 / fc3haiti@me.com

Share/Bookmark


FC3 HAITI – Donations Raised So Far

Dear Friends and Supports,

On Friday, March 5th we raised another $100.00
for UNICEF at Montclair State University. To see the photos from this event click here.

BREAKDOWN:
(Rev 4/1/2010)

Event #1 – “Power Hour” at Misavi
$850.00 raised for Architecture for Humanity

Event #2 – “M.A.S.H.” NJ Biz Buzz Event
$145.00 (total raised at this event $5,400.00) for the Red Cross

Event #3 – “Comedy for a Cause” at the 19th Hole Comedy Club
$950.00 for Architecture for Humanity
Includes gifts from friends of the Outlet and friends of Ethos Spa)

Cub Scout Pack #38
$80.00 for Architecture for Humanity

Event #4 – UNICEF Fundraiser Dinner @ MSU
$91.00 (total raised at this event $435 for UNICEF)

If you would like to help get the word out about what we are doing and help us raise more money for this important cause, please contact me.

Special thanks to AlphaGraphics of Wayne-Totowa as well for donating the prints so that (unless otherwise noted above) 100% of the donations raised go directly to Architecture for Humanity, 501(c) non-profit organization which is helping bring Architects and Builders together to redesign and rebuild Haiti. For more specific info about this charity please click here.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this effort or would like to get involved to help our cause please contact me via text, email, or phone.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III – Architect & Visual Artist
Blog http://fc3haiti.blogspot.com/
Gallery
http://fc3arch.zenfolio.com/
PO Box 335 Hamburg NJ 07419
973.970.3551 / fc3haiti@me.com


Share/Bookmark


FC3 HAITI – Donations Raised So Far


DSC_0171_Edited
Originally uploaded by fc3arch

Dear Friends and Supports,

I am happy to report that with the generosity of many people we have been able to raise over $2,000.00 for the relief efforts in Haiti through our “Art for Haiti” program.
On Saturday, February 27th we raised another $950.00
for Architecture for Humanity at our first Comedy for a Cause event. To see the photos from this event click here.
A large part of the contribution was made by Joe Branco, owner of the 19th Hole Comedy Club at the Meadows Golf Club in Lincoln Park, NJ, who donated $5 from each ticket sale towards our cause.
I also want to thank my “special family and friends” (you know who you are, thank you) for their generosity in helping make this event a great success.
BREAKDOWN:
(Rev 3/1/2010)
Event #1 – “Power Hour” at Misavi
$850.00 raised for Architecture for Humanity
Event #2 – “M.A.S.H.” NJ Biz Buzz Event
$145.00 (total raised at this event $5,400.00) for the Red Cross
Event #3 – “Comedy for a Cause” at the 19th Hole Comedy Club
$950.00 for Architecture for Humanity
Includes gifts from friends of the Outlet and friends of Ethos Spa)
Cub Scout Pack #38
$80.00 for Architecture for Humanity
Event #4 – UNICEF Fundraiser Dinner @ MSU
T.B.D., Please click here for event details.
If you would like to help get the word out about what we are doing and help us raise more money for this important cause, please contact me.

Special thanks to AlphaGraphics of Wayne-Totowa as well for donating the prints so that (unless otherwise noted above) 100% of the donations raised go directly to Architecture for Humanity, 501(c) non-profit organization which is helping bring Architects and Builders together to redesign and rebuild Haiti. For more specific info about this charity please click here.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this effort or would like to get involved to help our cause please contact me via text, email, or phone.

Thank you!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III – Architect & Visual Artist
Blog http://fc3haiti.blogspot.com/
Gallery
http://fc3arch.zenfolio.com/
PO Box 335 Hamburg NJ 07419
973.970.3551 / fc3haiti@me.com


Share/Bookmark