National Resilience Initiative

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Resilience concerns continue to grow in the national consciousness, due in large part to our expanding understanding that many disasters and disturbances are no longer isolated once-in-a-lifetime events, but part of a longer ongoing pattern already set in motion. A new mindset has emerged to accommodate a spectrum of social, environmental, and technological change, while taking into account the people, landscape, or economies at stake.

The National Resilience Initiative (NRI) is a joint program of AIA and the Architects Foundation, with the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture, that unites six university-led architecture studios to develop new designs, research, and policies that bolster resilience in the built environment. The NJIT Center for Resilient Design was the first organization selected to join the NRI.

National Resilience Initiative

Resilient Design Scholar

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Resilient Design ScholarResilient Design Scholar

The Center for Resilient Design has received a generous, $5000.00 grant from the American Institute of Architects – its National Resilience Initiative – to support our first “Resilient Design Scholar.” The selected Scholar will be an architecture student who will work with us in the Center over the summer of 2018 to conduct a research project focused on resilient design and construction. The AIA funds will inaugurate the program (all the funds will go to the student) with the hope that we could secure other funding sources – internal or external – to continue the program in subsequent years.

The research focus for our first Scholar will be to create An Introduction to Resilient Design: a curriculum for a three-credit elective course that can be used to teach 4th year architecture students about critical issues in resilient design. The course will be designed to mesh with what 4th year architecture students already know about building design and construction – and what they don’t – and will be designed to reinforce and help expand their knowledge. 

The course will be taught at NJIT during the Spring semester 2019. It is anticipated that the course will also be made available to other architecture schools across North America, potentially in conjunction with the ACSA. 

Resilience + Adaptation

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Deane Evans, the Executive Director of the Center for Resilient Design, is currently the lead author and lead instructional designer of a multimedia online curriculum being produced by the American Institute of Architects titled Resilience + Adaptation. Several of the courses in this 10-hour, 10-course curriculum focus generally on the topic of adaption to chronic stresses (as distinct from resilience to acute shocks), and two of the courses focus specifically on community response to both acute shocks and chronic stresses.

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems: Historic Greenwich Township Project

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The Center for Resilient Design is currently overseeing a project to explore ways to protect ecosystems and their surrounding communities from flooding. Focused on the small community of Greenwich Township, New Jersey, the project seeks to advance coastal resiliency planning while balancing human and ecosystem needs.

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems: Historic Greenwich Township Project  Healthy Coastal Ecosystems: Historic Greenwich Township Project 

A causeway across a tidal creek in Greenwich, NJ. A culvert fitted with a downstream flap gate was installed under and through the causeway.

New Jersey Urban Mayors Academy on Resilience

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In 2015, the Center for Resilient Design convened the first New Jersey Urban Mayors Academy on Resilience. Mayors from six New Jersey cities attended a 2-day retreat that developed local resiliency strategies fine-tuned to the specific needs of each community. The Academy is a joint effort of NJIT, the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison State College, and the Regional Plan Association. Modeled on similar – and highly successful – regional and urban design institutes, the Academy invited mayors and a resource team of technical, design, and planning professionals to develop local resiliency strategies that synthesize the best available approaches with specific local conditions, costs, and benefits. The resulting strategies were summarized for each participating mayor and released publicly to serve as models for other urban municipalities throughout the state and beyond. Participating New Jersey municipalities included Bridgeton, Orange, Perth Amboy, Trenton, and Vineland.

New Jersey Urban Mayors Academy on Resilience

Sustainability + Resilience

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Sustainability + Resilience   

In early 2015, the Center began work on a research project analyzing the relationship between sustainability and resilience at the scale of the single family house. Specifically, the Center analyzed a home in Ocean City, NJ that had been damaged in Super Storm Sandy and recently rebuilt. The study analyzed whether the repairs implemented would qualify the home for both Energy Star certification (a measure of its sustainability) and for Fortified Home designation (a measure of its resilience). The study was a first step in what the Center hopes will be a broader set of analyzes to assess the degree to which energy conservation measures can result in improved resilience and vice versa. 

Sustainability + Resilience

Energy Star

  Sustainability + Resilience

Microgrids + Resilience

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Microgrids + Resiliency   

In late 2014, the Center for Resilient Design initiated a study to assess the potential for using distributed power generation and “microgrids” to both increase energy efficiency and reduce hazard vulnerability at the community level. Through an innovative partnership with the Regional Plan Association and the New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank, the Center conducted an analysis of potential locations for distributed energy resources in the Sandy-affected regions of New Jersey. The project identified a series of 24 “town centers” – clusters of public facilities and geographically adjacent non-public buildings – that could be suitable for community-level microgrids. A report summarizing results was provided to the Energy Resilience Bank, which has indicated a desire to expand the analysis to all the remaining counties in New Jersey. 

Microgrids + Resiliency  Microgrids + Resiliency Microgrids + Resiliency

Hoboken Terminal Studio

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Hoboken Terminal Studio

In Spring semester 2015, through a generous grant from New Jersey Transit, the NJIT College of Architecture and Design – in collaboration with the Center for Resilient Design – conducted a research seminar and a comprehensive Design Studio focused on expanding and improving the resiliency of the Hoboken Terminal. The terminal, located on the northern edge of the city of Hoboken, is one of NJ Transit’s most trafficked, and serves as a multi-nodal center with New York City access via train, PATH, and ferry; Hudson County access via PATH and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail; and broader state access via NJ Transit trains. The existing terminal was damaged during Super Storm Sandy, requiring the resilient adaption of the building while expanding it with an annex.

Students worked in teams over the course of the semester, with regular input and review by New Jersey Transit architectural and engineering personnel. At the conclusion of the semester, four projects were selected for further elaboration by a four-person team of students working as summer interns at New Jersey Transit’s headquarters in Newark. 

Hoboken Terminal Studio

Resilient Design Studios

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Over the course of Spring semester 2013 and during Fall and Spring semesters 2014, the NJIT College of Architecture and Design – in collaboration with the Center for Resilient Design – conducted a series of undergraduate design studios focused on various aspects of resilient design. Close to 1,000 NJIT faculty and students created provocative designs and models that both visualized (re)building Post-Sandy and anticipated the next natural disaster. A centralized clearinghouse is being created to organize this information and provide public officials, design professionals, and others with access to the research that went into the projects and the resulting design solutions.

Resilient Design Studios    Resilient Design Studios

 

Resilient Design Studios   Resilient Design Studios

Greenwich Township Studio

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Greenwich Township Studio

A special aspect of our efforts to explore how communities could become more resilient in the face of future events has been the use of architectural design studios at NJIT to research, analyze and develop innovative design strategies for increasing resilience in specific New Jersey communities. Such studios provide unique platforms for bringing communities together around the topic of resilience and then help them define and envision alternate future conditions for their specific circumstances. By creating highly visual outputs that community stakeholders can understand and react to, design studios can stimulate community enthusiasm in ways that other types of engagement may not and can be strong motivators for action going forward.   

The Center for Resilient Design is currently conducting such a studio to improve resilience in Greenwich Township on the Delaware River. Students from NJIT's College of Architecture and Design are exploring a range of planning approaches and design concepts to enhance the township’s resistance to flooding and improve economic conditions through a range of ecotourism strategies. The Greenwich community has been actively engaged with the project and, while the student concepts are not fully developed, they do present a range of innovative, thought-provoking resilience/economic revitalization strategies for residents to consider.

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