Alternative Spring Break 2014


The Provident Bank and Foundation Recognized For Supporting NJIT 2014 Alternative Spring Break

In recognition of the success of its 2nd annual “Alternative Spring Break” volunteer effort, NJIT hosted an event to thank those who supported and participated in this year’s effort, including The Provident Bank,, which supplied volunteers for the program, and The Provident Bank Foundation, which provided grant funding. New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno was also on hand to offer gratitude on behalf of the state. “It’s great to see college students thinking outside the box about how to spend their time off and that they chose to give back to the Garden State,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno. “For me, it is inspiring to see how The Provident Bank and its charitable foundation are so deeply involved in and supportive of worthy efforts that directly help our New Jersey residents.”  See More….

NJ College Students Volunteer at Jersey Shore for 'Alternative Spring Break'

While many of his classmates are spending their spring breaks partying on the sunny beaches of Cancun, Daytona Beach and Jamaica, New Jersey Institute of Technology student Nick Wujek was hard at work today on the chilly Jersey Shore. Wujek, 23, was one of about a dozen NJIT students giving up part of their spring breaks to plant sea grass and build fencing along sand dunes in Sea Bright. They are among hundreds of New Jersey students participating in volunteer activities — called Alternative Spring Break — designed for college students who want to give something back during their vacations. Read More….

Hundreds of NJIT Students Participate in Alternative Spring Break: Rebuilding Communities Devastated by Sandy

During NJIT’s Alternative Spring Break, more than 340 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends volunteered to work from Little Ferry, Newark and Staten Island, to the Jersey shore, cleaning up devastated areas and helping towns rebuild resiliently following the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Students worked on removing debris from beaches and parks, removing floors and wallboard, replacing floors and walls, painting and carpentry, stocking and distributing food and clothing, compiling information on areas affected by Sandy and doing other work to help communities recover and rebuild. With a generous grant from the Provident Bank Foundation and support from the NJIT University Senate, Campus Center, Career Development Services, College of Architecture and Design and the Center for Resilient Design, NJIT organized over a dozen organizations and two dozen projects during the week. Over the last 18 months, NJIT has provided communities with over 1,000 volunteers to help towns rebuild after Sandy.  Read More….

NJIT’s Alternative Spring Break In Action

Over 340 students volunteered over Spring Break, March 15-22, 2014 to help communities in New Jersey and New York recover from Superstorm Sandy and other disasters. Check out the YouTube video of slides from some of the activities during that week.  Click here to watch the video.

NJIT Alternative Spring Break - Dune Restoration at Island Beach State Park 

During NJIT's Alternative Spring Break, more than 300 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends volunteered their time from Newark to the Jersey shore, cleaning up devastated areas and helping towns rebuild resiliently. Students worked on removing debris from beaches and parks, planting dune grass and constructing fences, removing floors and wallboard, replacing floors and walls, painting and carpentry, stocking and distributing food and clothing, compiling information on areas affected by Sandy and doing other work to help communities recover and rebuild. During this activity, NJIT students planted over 5,700 plugs of dune grass to rebuild the dunes. See some of their work and hear why Center Director Tom Dallessio thinks this program is important for both NJIT and our communities. Click here to watch the video.  

Calgary, Like U.S. Coastal Cities, Must Become ‘Smarter Than the Storm,’ Flood Conference Hears


By Tamara Gignac, Calgary Herald

City planners should learn from the Alberta floods, hurricane Katrina and other disasters to better prepare for extreme weather events, according to experts speaking at a University of Calgary flood conference.

Thomas Dallessio has spent the past year advising the New Jersey state government on recovery solutions in the wake of hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that deluged transit systems, electrical infrastructure and washed out homes and businesses in the coastal region last Oct. 29.

Calgary — much like U.S. coastal cities — needs to become “smarter than the storm” by exploring a range of solutions, said Dallessio, who serves as project manager of the Center for Resilient Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

One option is to build “amphibious” houses that rise and fall with the level of groundwater. “We need to pay attention to the science and bring researchers together with emergency management personnel, fire chiefs and police to reach a common conclusion and have the courage to make the changes that are necessary,” he said.

Friday’s all-day symposium was organized by the U of C’s faculty of environmental design and the Institute for Public Health. It featured keynote speakers with expertise in architecture, psychology and disaster recovery.

Flooding can actually benefit cities if appropriate safeguards are taken, noted urban planner Donald Watson, author of the book Design for Flooding: Resilience to Climate Change.

Flood-prone communities are exploring a variety of mitigation strategies, including the use of porous asphalt that can store rain water, he said.

Some countries, like Japan, are also putting in place so-called “super levees” to create flood basins where water can be detained.

Flood mitigation is “not just the dream of the future but the action plan of today,” Watson told attendees.

Dr. Michael Trew, the province’s recently appointed chief mental health officer, spoke about Alberta’s efforts to help displaced flood victims cope with the disaster.

It’s one thing to rebuild bridges and roads, but the emotional well-being of those under stress from the worst flooding in provincial history is of equal importance, Trew said.

“There are people who need a little bit of help and others who don’t know how to respond anymore. Some turn to dangerous habits; others struggle to deal with loss,” he said.

Scientists are also investigating the long-term toll natural disasters have on human health.

Dr. David Plante, a developmental psychologist at McGill University, discussed his research into the impact of maternal stress on fetuses during the Quebec ice storm.

He found that pregnant women who suffered higher levels of stress gave birth to children more inclined to obesity and an increased risk of diabetes — an “unexpected” consequence to the 1998 winter disaster that caused 27 deaths and left three million people without electricity for days.

Originally published in the Calgary Herald

Community Outreach


Working in communities throughout New Jersey and the metropolitan area, Center Director Deane Evans and colleagues at NJIT engage mayors and other local, county, regional, state, and federal officials, as well as national and international experts, through roundtables, lectures, an interactive website, and community service programs.

Field Testing


Through studios and other classroom experiences, the School of Architecture's Keith Krumwiede leads faculty and students to consider the implications of laws, regulations, investments, and other governmental decisions related to natural and man-made disasters. Rules and regulations are tested and recommendations are provided to enable users to be more resilient. In the Spring 2014 Studio Classes, NJIT architecture students explored the challenges and opportunities of resilient design. Here are some of the drawings and models that students produced in this effort.

Elevated IntegrationHousingIMG_6705

Mantella Homes



Amphibious Housing for the New Normal


The question of whether or not to rebuild in such a highly vulnerable area is often predicated on the desire to re-establish the sense of communal living borne of the relationships forged amongst the residents and evident in the architecture of proximal living of this once fishing community. The relationship between the people is heavily reliant on the interrelationship between their homes and, as such, the relevance of the affinity between a house and the ground becomes vital. A viable alternative to permanent static elevation is amphibious housing. Unlike floating homes, an amphibious house is secured on thick, telescoping steel posts inserted into concrete piles common in beachfront construction. This option affords the safety sought by the new FEMA regulations while preserving the “cottage culture” of coastal communities by providing a buoyant foundation that allows the home to sit at grade during normal conditions, as well as elevate with rising water levels and lower again as the levels recede. A similar logic can be applied to walkways that rise from the ground to retain the connective infrastructure lost during natural disasters. Planters that float act as armor from floating debris and provide the visual comfort of the familiar in a time of crisis. Adaptability becomes the new normal.

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Cherish in Flawed House


The increase in the incidents of weather related catastrophes makes it necessary to design houses that are not only sustainable, but also adaptable. Like most areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, the solution is not abandonment, but a design that makes the areas livable and allows communities to return. Therefore, the main objective of this project is to reestablish and reintegrate Sea Bright into the fabric of the surrounding communities. This project was designed to limit the amount of structural walls and columns on the ground floor. This not only allows for an open floor area that is adaptable to various uses, but also limits building surfaces that could be impacted by natural forces. Structural supporting cores were pushed towards the center of the building, creating column-less building edges. These reinforced concrete cores also serve as shafts for building services and vertical transportation. The cores are watertight to protect all vital services in the building in the event of an emergency. The entire building perimeter is wrapped in a watertight panelized façade that closes during storms and other emergency weather conditions, establishing an environmental envelope that protects the occupants' lives and property. The courtyard is employed to aid cross ventilation and lighting in the building bulk. The building can be constructed in modules to allow for fast-paced construction. Modules could be subtracted or adjusted to create interesting interior shared spaces for the occupants. The building is raised above the flood plain on reinforced concrete cores to create a ground condition that is not only adaptable, but also flexible. This also allows all vital building services to be located out of the flood plain. As the water level rises, the programs in the building also change.

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Nauvoo House


Sea Bright seems the perfect place to establish a new type of coastal building typology. Sea Bright's formal history began in 1969, but, before that, in the early 1940s, the fishing village of Nauvoo, a small cluster of wooden shacks, sat nestled among the tall grass·topped sand dunes of the barrier beach. At a time in American history when strength, adaptability, resiliency, and resourcefulness meant the difference between survival and extinction, it seems only fitting to look to our past to help shape our future. In homage to the strength and resiliency of one of America's first coastal communities, this proposed building typology is respectfully named "The Nauvoo House."

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