Designers: Help Katrina’s Victims

While the first waves of aid have arrived for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster is far from over. It will be weeks before recovery and reconstruction efforts take root, and months before the area will be habitable again. Help will continue to be needed. Donating to the Red Cross is one way to assist; several design organizations are spearheading other methods.

Architecture for Humanity is appealing for donations to support local architects’ efforts to rebuild homes and communities in the region’s hardest-hit areas. Along with the AIA, it is enlisting volunteers, offering assistance for fundraisers, and encouraging able parties to donate building materials, which AFH will in turn match with a needy non-profit. Web portal Archinect has also organized an “Adopt an Architect” forum for firms offering temporary employment to design professionals from the affected areas, as well as compiled updates about schools willing to host displaced Tulane architecture students. Plus Boston-based architecture firm Gould Evans has set up a database to help architecture, engineering, and construction firms pass on resources and work and living space to colleagues in need.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ response to the disaster is two-fold: the organization is seeking to provide practical assistance to the reconstruction process and background information on the disaster. Posted on the ASCE’s Web site are a call for volunteers, advice about how to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a technical listserv, and an archive of journal and magazine articles about hurricane response and mitigation, including pieces on evacuation, shelters, and levees.

The American Institute of Graphic Artists is aiming to connect designers in the affected region with its network of business resources. The organization is asking its members to donate any available computers, studio space, or housing so that it may match these goods with needy designers. The AIGA also has allocated an initial $10,000 to help designers re-establish their practices, and is suggesting regional chapters donate funds in-kind. On a larger scale, the AIGA is adding two sessions to its upcoming national conference to address the relief effort. One session will explore how the design community can provide immediate and long-term support for the Gulf Coast region, while the other will discuss the role of design in future emergency and evacuation procedures.

Finally, multidisciplinary design blog Design Observer is continuously updating a list of grass-roots efforts to assist Katrina’s victims. Opportunities range from relocation and work offers to competitions and other fundraisers.

Categories: Cities