The boiler breaks on the coldest day of the school year. Children are sent home; parents inconvenienced. Staff are given half day off. School administrators are pulled away from routine tasks. It’s necessary to find a contractor willing to work NOW. And once identified, that can be a part that must ship overnight.
The school is operating at the highest most costly maintenance mode.
Emergencies happen, we can never eliminate all of them. Still, we can reduce the frequency of their occurrence. We can bring facilities into a solid state of good repair under a reasonable routine of slow and steady preventative maintenance.
But doesn’t that cost money? My schools don’t have the funds for anything not strictly tied to education.
DiGeronimo focuses on reducing the cost of facilities through cost avoidance. So yes, it still takes money to get a building into a state of good repair. But emergency maintenance costs too. The goal is to budget a reasonable yearly facility cost and slow and steady, fix potential problems before they break or leak. And as long as we’re planning facility related items forward, there are energy grants and rebates to replace outdated equipment at no cost or low cost.
Why on earth would someone replace our school boiler at no cost?
Because local energy providers need to save energy; no new power plants are coming on line anytime soon. Yet our live, work, play, and educate buildings in our neighborhoods are expanding. So if your school qualifies, manufacturers will replace boilers at no cost and utilities will install them at no cost – all to the purpose of reducing energy consumption so the neighborhood will have more. There is yet another added benefit: the school’s utility bills are reduced.
DiGeronimo is your best guide to grants and energy rebates.
So how do you do it? This magic?
We start with a building condition assessment; an in-depth knowing of what you have. We record every critical potential building maintenance issue. Then, we make a compilation all on paper of repairs and costs.
We prioritize: 1) Repairs for life safety and security related topics demand immediate attention. 2) Repairs for health to prevent airborne allergens in the school is next in importance – any moisture entering the building anywhere has to be stopped because moisture breeds mold. 3) Repairs for cost avoidance will be the majority of repairs.
But I’m the Facilities Manager, I manage my schools’ facilities and I don’t need you to do it for me.
What we do is to summarize and report to you for you to direct and guide us. We report to you what you need to fix in advance of breakdowns and leaks. You order staff to fix it. We prepare the work scope to receive bids; you control the bidding and get the lowest prices. If planned ahead, preventative repairs can be lumped together in efficient task groups that save money. Contractors can work ‘normal’ work-week, work day hours. If planned ahead, parts can be rebuilt and will never need to be replaced.
DiGeronimo has the answers.
DiGeronimo Facilities Management is more than resource management; its providing a physical setting that is adequate for effective learning. Achieving a state of good repair costs money, no question about it. Nonetheless, it does pay off – in DECREASED repair costs, in DECREASED equipment replacement costs, and in DECREASED utility bills over time.
Having fewer educational interruptions by way of improving facilities requires patience. A comprehensive proactive program takes resources, energy, and time to initiate. There is a need for a designated budgeted yearly cost to keep pace with the preventative program, slow and steady. There is a need to allot time to the program before results are realized.
There is money to be saved in avoiding emergency expenditures. Clean orderly safe cost-effective and instructionally supportive school facilities enhance education.
Hire DiGeronimo Facilities Management Services for your school buildings. Contact us at DiGeronimo to learn more.
“70% of homeless New Yorkers are families with children… most of them led by women. These mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and sisters – many of whom have fled domestic violence – are the forgotten face of homelessness in our city.” Women in Need (WIN) www.winnyc.org.
Permanent housing made available for these families and children would bring the homeless problem in NYC 70% closer to being solved. DiGeronimo Architects holds a Technical Assistance Contract TAC with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Homeless Housing Assistance Program HHAP. We are excited to be part of the solution.
“The combination of stable housing and supportive services are the magic ingredients that make it possible for people who have frequently fallen through the cracks in the social safety-net to regain stability in their lives and move forward.” Steven Banks commissioner of NYC Human Resources Administration / Department of Social Services.
In 2003 Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared he was going to end homelessness in 10 years. What does ‘ending homeless’ mean? Clearly there will always be homelessness. Some even prefer their homeless lifestyle.
The Times lead Editorial March 4th 2017 acknowledges a debt to Pope Francis. He offered a concrete, permanently useful prescription for dealing with panhandlers – giving someone something is always right. But what if the panhandler uses the money for, say, a glass of wine? Pope Francis proffers the way of giving as being as important as the gift. You must stop, look the person in the eyes and touch his or her hand; by doing this you see the person not as a pathology or a social condition, but as a human with a life whose value is equal to yours. So maybe compassion is the right call. Give them the money and don’t worry about it.
Governor Andrew Como tosses money at the homeless housing problem – $20 Billion and a target of adding 100,000 affordable housing units in five years. HUD had in previous years awarded $33 Million to help end youth homelessness and almost $2 Billion for local homeless programs. Mayor de Blasio is committing $300 Million in capital spending to expand the 30 existing shelters and has plans to reallocate the money now spent on hotels and cluster sites for 90 new shelters. These solutions are the same as they were back for Mayor Bloomberg in 2003 – “bricks mortar and money.”
One of life’s basic needs is shelter, just like food and water. People need somewhere to stay; from providing foster care for abused and neglected children; to helping refugees find their ‘place’ in a new country; to housing a returning vet. Find the best way to meet housing needs and you help the person build a sense of belonging, a pride of ownership, and a sense of self-sufficiency. Housing – or the lack thereof – reflects the individuals’ economic environment. The provision of housing for our homeless is a further reflection of society’s meeting the needs of its most vulnerable residents.
‘Permanent supportive housing’ is essentially an apartment building that has social workers available when needed. Give a home to people who have experienced the trauma of living on the street without asking much more of them; give them access to case workers and nurses and a community. If you do that, slowly they will acclimate to stability and become part of a community, which in turn creates a network of people helping each other stay stable.
Giving homes to the homeless sounds expensive but doing nothing is more so. According to a Columbia University Study housing the homeless saves $15,000 per participant. The average chronically homeless person in NYC costs the City $38,351 spent over 2 a year time frame on shelters, crisis health services, and jails.
A ‘Housing First’ program model gives people homes without requiring them first to do other things like get sober or off drugs or deal with mental illness. Some say housing alone doesn’t solve all the problem people face. Supportive housing organizations address this criticism by building not just bricks and mortar, but also by building community – networks that make residents feel safe. Once safe, the resident can venture out to address underlying issues. It’s a program and also a clinical approach.
Medicine Hat, a small town in Alberta, Canada is on the leading edge of a country wide effort to end homelessness through the ‘Housing First’ strategy. The strategy has been widely adopted in Europe and Australia. In the US, it has found its most striking success in reducing homelessness among military veterans in cities like New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix. But no country has embraced the approach as firmly as Canada.
In Medicine Hat, anyone identified as homeless is offered a home without preconditions for sobriety and other self-improvement that keep many people on the street elsewhere. Alcoholic? Here’s a one-bedroom apartment where you can live – even if you’re still drinking. Drug Addict? Here’s a studio with heat and hot water – even if you’re still getting high. Mentally ill? Here’s a place to feel safe and call your own – and where case workers can find you. Living in a community rather than on the streets is life changing.
The DiGeronimo Architectural approach to supportive housing design focuses on creating community within buildings, on making sure residents feel comfortable there and with neighbors and staff. Slowly, residents join in-house groups, coffee clubs, attend holiday dinners, and make monthly floor meetings. We design comfortable shared spaces where people want to spend time to talk with friends and neighbors. We design spaces to encourage interaction at likely gathering spots within the building, spaces where people naturally socialize and can casually ‘bump into’ others.
Dealing with single adults is a demographic that, so far, has led the homeless conversation, despite making up only 30 percent of the population. Addressing the challenges that homeless families face requires a different strategy. It means focusing on the needs of children and the single women who head the household; on developing a multiyear plan for construction of the necessary number of units; on planning for support services; and on prioritizing long-term stability over temporary shelters.
The recommendations in Mayor de Blasio current plan to combat homelessness includes a neighborhood-based approach. He would strive to keep homeless families in their neighborhoods close to home while growing community support for building additional community-centered facilities. His plan includes reducing the use of cluster apartments and hotels as shelter; increasing rental assistance and supportive services. Cluster and hotel housing frequently lacks proper security and necessary services. Full-service shelters and permanent housing provides more than just beds to sleep in; they provide opportunities and support services for residents to move on to re-establishing self-worth and self-respect.
DiGeronimo designs affordable housing for homeless families, women and children. Housing is provided in the upper floors of a high rise building by way of small apartment private spaces less than 700 sf – two bedrooms, a living area, efficiency kitchen, one bathroom, storage and closets. We use wide corridors as indoor streets; residents use them as an extension of living quarters. Apartments ring a floor. In the floor central space is a community area include a common living room and ‘communal table’ for eating, homework, and general hand tasks. Another floor dedicated shared facility is a laundry.
Program components depend on service needs the service providers identify; still all services identified need physical spaces in which to perform their designated functions. On the lower floors are classrooms, a large multipurpose room, storage, administration, staff lounge, staff rest rooms, and counseling rooms. Security at the building entry point is unobtrusive but effective because of design configuration. Street level retail space includes clinic type facilities (Med-emerge, dentist, pharmacy, drug store, deli, and/or small grocer.) Outdoor and roof top facilities are child-oriented play areas and micro-sports practice fields.
From this core of spaces, programs can include a wide variety of options: welcoming reception (functioning as the security check point;) child care; before school / after school programs to assist with homework and nurture a love of competitive games; college prep and tutoring; lunchroom, warming kitchen; multipurpose room, for indoor sports, plays, music; teacher lounge, toilets; training and continuing education classrooms for adults after work hours with access to child care, high school equivalency; multipurpose room for parties, plays, resident gatherings, lecture presentations; service provider administration, files, storage.
We can develop excellent, useful, and practical permanent housing for compassionate understanding of the special needs of homeless families, women and children. If we can’t end homelessness, let’s address the 70% portion of it.
In October 2012 after their rent skyrocketed, Angela Merette could no longer afford to keep the family’s apartment in Queens and so they became homeless. Angela along with her children Angely Tejada 14, Joel 7 and Jessenia 10 were desperate.
“I told them not to lose hope, but it was hard to have hope.”
While living in a temporary homeless shelter, Tejada attended the High School of Applied Communication in Long Island City. 105,445 homeless kids attended New York City Schools 2015-2016. They often struggle with academics and often miss class. Four years later while living the entire time in homeless shelters, Tejada managed to graduate from high school and enroll in college, supported by her good academics and with the help of federal and state financial aid. This same year, Women in Need WIN found permanent housing for Angela and her family. They moved into their new apartment on December 16th 2016, just in time for Christmas.
INTERNATIONAL JURY OF EXPERTS SELECTED FOR PORT AUTHORITY BUS TERMINAL DESIGN + DELIVERABILITY COMPETITION
The Port Authority today announced the selection of an international panel of eight jurors, renowned for their expertise in urban planning, transportation operations, architecture, construction management, engineering and other fields, for the “Port Authority Bus Terminal International Design + Deliverability Competition.”
The jurors will select a group of finalists from prospective competitors who have registered for the competition, and will advise the Port Authority Board of Commissioners in its recommendation of a competition winner.
The jurors are:
- Suzanne DiGeronimo, President of DiGeronimo Architects, which has offices in New Jersey and New York. DiGeronimo has experience with government, historic, resiliency and transportation projects in both New Jersey and New York
- Martin Wachs, who will serve as jury chairman. Wachs is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering and of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He previously served for 25 years at the University of California-Los Angeles, including 11 years as chairman of the Department of Urban Planning.
- Gail Benjamin, retired former New York City Council Land Use Director. Benjamin served on the New York City Council for 24 years, and has extensive experience navigating complex New York City land-use matters.
- Tilly Chang, Executive Director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Chang’s professional experience includes planning, development and delivery of multi-modal transportation projects, as well as transportation policy and urban planning. She also has worked at the World Bank and the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
- Robert Paaswell, Distinguished Professor at the Grove School of Engineering, The City College of New York. Paaswell previously served as executive director of the Chicago Transit Authority.
- Robert Puentes, President and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation. Puentes previously served at the Brookings Institution. He led projects relating to sustainable transportation, infrastructure finance, access to opportunity- and urban planning.
- Phillip Washington, CEO of Los Angeles Metro. Washington oversees a fleet of 2,000 buses and six rail lines. He is a former CEO of Denver, Colorado’s Regional Transportation District and a former Chair of American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
- Dana Skelley, Director of Asset Management, Transport for London, Surface Transport. Skelley is one of Britain’s most senior and respected women in engineering. She leads 500 engineers and asset managers and is responsible for more than £15 billion of infrastructure, including maintenance of London’s arterial roads, 6,200 traffic lights, 1,800 bridges, 12 tunnels and more than 1,000 miles of walkways. She has been awarded the Order of the British Empire
“The selection of this prestigious group of jurors is another step in honoring the commitment of the board to include in its capital plan the funds necessary to erect a replacement bus terminal on the west side of Manhattan,” said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. “I look forward to reviewing the conceptual design of a facility endorsed by this jury and sharing it with the city, the community and most importantly the commuters currently consigned to an outmoded and overcrowded structure, which had languished for far too long without Port Authority steps to replace it. Thankfully, that process is now underway.”
Vice Chairman Steven M. Cohen said, “The members of this international jury collectively have the expertise in transportation operations, urban planning, architecture and other fields that will help inform what will be one of the largest and most important transit infrastructure projects across the United States.”
Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said, “The jury will help inform the design of a bus terminal that will be scalable to meet future needs, and that the Port Authority can have confidence will be delivered on time and on budget using our limited capital resources, that maximizes the value of PA-owned air rights and real estate, and reduces the $100 million-plus annual operating loss at the existing facility while addressing concerns of the local community and City of New York.”
The Port Authority will continue to engage with the public, and solicit input from commuters and neighbors of the bus terminal during the entire bus terminal process. Commuters and neighbors of the terminal are invited to submit comments to the Port Authority via online surveys which will remain available throughout the competition.
In addition, the agency recognizes that coordination and collaboration with the City of New York on issues such as approval for land use and zoning, community impacts, and urban design will be critical to bringing any major redevelopment project in midtown Manhattan to fruition.
At the Port Authority Board of Commissioners’ September meeting, jury chairman Martin Wachs is expected to present the jury’s recommendation to the board and the public. The board will make the final decision.
The Port Authority launched the design and deliverability competition on March 11, seeking multi-disciplinary teams with expertise and accomplishment in the design and planning of large-scale, intermodal mass transportation projects within high-density urban environments.
The winning design concept is expected to deliver on a complex set of agency objectives that address adequate capacity to meet future bus passenger demand, improved functionality for bus parking and staging, minimizing traffic impact on surrounding local streets, maximizing use of Port Authority property and sustaining safety and security.
The design concept must be cost-effective, taking into account both capital and future operating costs given limited financial resources and the history of significant operating losses at the existing bus terminal. The agency anticipates awarding a $1 million honorarium to the winning finalist, and additional honoraria of $200,000 each to runners-up whose design concepts have exceptional merit.
About the Port Authority Bus Terminal
Built in 1950 and expanded in 1979, the Port Authority Bus Terminal accommodates approximately 220,000 passenger trips and more than 7,000 bus movements on an average weekday. In 2014, it accommodated 66 million passenger trips and 2.3 million bus movements. Demand is expected to increase to as many as 270,000 daily peak-hour passengers by 2020, and as many as 337,000 daily peak-hour passengers by 2040.
To improve conditions for customers at the existing bus terminal while planning continues for the design and construction of a new terminal, the Board in 2014 approved a $90-million Quality of Commute program. This initiative includes operational improvements to help reduce crowding and improve bus flow, and has resulted in significantly fewer customer complaints about bus delays. It also includes the addition of increased cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity within the terminal and the installation of new restrooms, among other changes.
The broad elements of architecture were briefly described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, “In the prescription that buildings should provide Commodity, Firmness and Delight”.
Commodity addresses the spatial and functional utility of a building. Firmness addresses the building’s ability to resist natural forces. Delight relates to the sensory and associative pleasures buildings can provide—their meaning.
Architecture means many things to many people. While it is both the process and product of planning, it is often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Many past civilizations are often remembered by their surviving architectural achievements.
Today as the builders of the future, we have many things to consider when discussing Architecture. But most greatly, how does an architectural structure and its components affect those who live, work and play in those spaces. What volumes does a structure communicate, and what does it suggest?
From the onset, the selection of materials does appear to convey meaning to us, whatever choice is made. A glass building can, for example, mean transparency and honesty, while an opaque building may deliver privacy and concealment. Tall buildings have always been expressions of power; colorful buildings can mean levity and whimsy. The building’s activities can be shown or concealed, as can the means by which the building operates, like structure and mechanical systems.
For stress mitigating properties, interior features can include larger vistas in shared spaces, sound-absorbing surfaces to reduce noise, calming courtyard gardens, views of nature out of windows, curved walls, tactile surfaces and designs that can offer more natural light to enter spaces.
For the reduction of blind spots, the use of vision panels on doors, open stairs when appropriate, and partial glass walls highlight visibility.
Architectural solutions can also reduce fear in larger community areas; by eliminating graffiti which increases fear and the notion of crime. Graffiti resistant paints and stains can remove vandalous opportunity, additionally the implementation of landscaping techniques can act as deterrent, such as the planting of prickly bushes near walls. If architectural techniques are employed which persuade people to congregate outside it will make graffiti more difficult to place on walls and this can significantly improve the overall community morale.
Lighting adds beauty to any space and it is also a great way to reduce crime and minimize violence. Lighting can increase visibility, deter criminal acts by reducing spaces to hide. Gardens and park spaces surrounding buildings could also increase use and provide a serene environment with benches and possibly local history or natural wildlife directories.
Slowing traffic patterns around buildings also provides for multiuse walks such as the beautifully landscaped “Woonerf”, described as a living street, originally implemented in the Netherlands. These areas encourage shared space between pedestrians and cars; provide traffic calming and reinforce low speed limits.
Architectural solutions can provide safe designs to eliminate stress, reduce crime and violence, but architects must adhere to regulation imposed by central building and construction departments of town and cities. Many safety codes are reviewed daily in the avoidance of incident, but on occasion we must understand that building and construction code(s) may sadly play a part in crime development, by creating perfect breeding grounds for such crime and violence.
Building codes are meant to protect and safeguard health, property and public welfare. However, there are building and fire codes used today that can preclude or even prohibit the use of architectural techniques that may indeed prevent crime.
In parking facilities as an example, building and fire code can adopt specific rules that can amplify crime rates, such as requiring height limits on lighting poles which decrease illumination, encourage types of landscaping that can hide attacker(s), and also the requirement of enclosed exit stairs which limits public view. There are many fire code requirements where stairwells are virtually sealed off. This reduces and may completely eliminate the possibility of visual or auditory monitoring of activity in the stairwells. Unfortunately fire stairs are a prime area in which a high percentage of rapes occur, and where narcotics addicts deal and do drugs.
Architecture and technology can be deployed in these cases in many ways that can both protect the public and minimize crime. These scenarios must be evaluated for the overall safety, and compliance of code.
It is also possible to add Crime Impact Studies to the Environmental Impact Studies. These studies would provide the data for awareness of the need to reduce violence and crime, thereby affording a safer more resilient neighborhood and community.
Crime, violence and the spiral of decay in neighborhoods are challenges that can be overcome. Crime, and those acts of aggression and violence can be greatly reduced if we can implement technology, identify placement, remove existing limiting code barriers, and incorporate stress-reducing design into architectural practice.
Resilient Design and Using Metal to Build Homes
For the last few years, it seems that resiliency and resilient design have become the buzzwords for the architectural community. Since the US coastlines have experienced more Hurricane activity in the last 5 years the conversation has become increasingly more popular.
So, what is resilient design and how does metal architecture and construction play into it?
With new innovations in technology metal buildings are no longer used just for big skyscrapers. Metal architecture for residential projects is becoming increasingly popular. Residential homes, outbuildings, carports, detachable garage kits, and sheds are just a few examples of its now common use.
Metal is a popular choice because of its strength, durability and resilience. Metal can withstand many common fail points associated with the common wood method. Prior to using metal we were more comfortable using wood as the preferred building material for home construction. But why choose metal over wood; what are the benefits?
There are many very important reasons why using metal architecture for homes is healthier, safer and more resilient.
With the propagation of mold and mildew in residential buildings, using metal eliminates these infestations. Mold needs moist, organic material on which to grow. The Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) reports that 33%-50% of all structures have moisture-laden conditions ripe for supporting mold, bacteria, or other indoor biological pollutants. As a result many people suffer from allergy and sickness from mold penetrations. Metal does not have those problems.
Aluminum and Steel framing and structure stops mold in three ways.
- Metal is inorganic, so mold can’t feed like it does on lumber.
- Metal doesn’t hold moisture like wood does, so mold is less likely to occur as a surface issue.
- Metal components are built straight, true, and tight— and stay that way over time.
Wood-framing shifts, sags, and warps in what builders call “creep,” as the individual studs all twist, expand, and contract with changing moisture content. That causes nails to work out; actually, the whole frame loosens up over time. Cracks and crevices in the framing envelope develop. Windows and doors no longer shut properly, allowing outside moisture (and mold spores) to penetrate the building envelope more easily.
But metal framing does not change, creep, warp, or sag, because steel is inorganic and unaffected by moisture. Most metal framing connections are bolts and screws that won’t work out like nails.
A properly insulated metal building not only is energy efficient, but it is also built tight to stay tight. And since metal-framing creates deeper exterior walls than ordinary 2×4 wood framing, the use of thicker, more energy efficient insulation is possible.
The inorganic nature of metal makes it termite-resistant, too. Since metal is non-combustible, it doesn’t burn or contribute fuel to a building fire. A well-grounded steel building is much less likely to be damaged by lightning. The intrinsic strength of metal makes it resistant to high winds. Metal buildings start out arrow-straight and stay that way over the years. Since metal is recycled more than any other material, it is also a “green” building material. Metal is simple to erect and produces little waste as a by-product of construction.
Overall, metal architecture for homes overcomes many of the shortcomings of common wood frame construction. It alleviates health risk and mold exposure, supports energy efficiency and green efforts, and mitigates the experience of flooding, high wind hurricanes, and disaster impacts.
Resilience is the capacity to spring back and recover quickly from a flood or natural disaster and return to your home, school, or office with total operation and functionality, such as lights, heat and those everyday appliances and utilities functional, free of damage to your living/working spaces from that event.
In the last few years, several devastating storms have demonstrated the dramatic impacts that rising sea levels and storm surges can have on construction including, residential, industrial and commercial buildings. A building that may be resilient to storm damage is not necessarily able to stay fully operational and functional throughout the storm and its overwhelming aftermath.
The tasks of designing and managing buildings that are resilient to storm water present several challenges. Traditionally, mechanical, electrical and plumbing/fire protection (MEP/FP) services enter a building via below-grade service rooms. This makes efficient use of less-valuable basement and garage space while also enabling services to tie directly into underground utility connections. Unfortunately as a result of these connections many of these services become more vulnerable to flooding.
School Resiliency –NYC SCA
Those families who have children living in the coastal communities affected by recent storms in the NY and NJ area are all too familiar with how everyday life can change quickly. The impacts of the severe weather does not discriminate its targets, and many school systems have been forced to consider the needs of resiliency.
Residential Resiliency – DDC NYC Build It Back Program
DiGeronimo Completes First Home Elevation for the NY Build It Back Program
DiGeronimo PC created the innovative architectural design for the very 1st home elevation in the NY Build It Back program. The architectural design adjusts the home position from its previous lower grade level to a higher design elevation. This elevated design eliminates future flood water intrusion into the home living area. Any future storm water or flooding will come and recede in an open area under the house.
Coastal American cities are sinking into saturated new realities, new analysis has confirmed. Sea level rise has given a boost to high tides, which are regularly overtopping streets, floorboards and other low-lying areas that had long existed in relatively dehydrated harmony with nearby waterfronts. The trend is projected to worsen sharply in the coming years.
The increase of tidal flooding in American coastal communities is largely a consequence of greenhouse gases from human activity, and the problem will grow far worse in coming decades, as recently reported by researchers.
It is documented in these reports that emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, are causing the ocean to rise at a most incredible rate. It is further mentioned that in the absence of human emissions, the ocean surface would be rising less rapidly and might even be falling.
In the new report, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, forecasts that by 2030, at least 180 floods will strike during high tides every year in Annapolis, Md. In some cases, such flooding will occur twice in a single day, since tides come in and out about two times daily. By 2045, that’s also expected to be the case in Washington, D.C., Atlantic City, N.J. and 14 other East Coast and Gulf Coast locations out of 52 analyzed by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Though these types of floods often produce only a foot or two of standing saltwater, they are hurting life in many towns by lawns and foliage, wildlife, hindering neighborhood streets and obstructing storm sewer drains, polluting supplies of freshwater and sometimes marooning entire island communities for hours by covering the roads.
In the most recent reports, global temperatures have jumped about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century due largely to human emissions. The sea is rising at what appears to be an accelerating pace, lately reaching a rate of about a foot per century. As stated by Dr. Kopp” Physics tells us that sea-level temperature should go hand-in-hand and our current geological record confirms it.”
The new report provides examples in which hard-hit communities are already adapting to rising seas, such as working to raise homes, roads and schools in New York City. In Annapolis, along the vulnerable Chesapeake Bay coastline, a partnership between the Navy and local authorities has also produced an approach to adapting to rising seas, partly because the floods are being viewed as a national security threat.
To Learn More about “What People are doing to become Resilient” Click Here
Louis DiGeronimo, a veteran, US Army, is the Northern New Jersey Area Chair for New Jersey ESGR, his dedication to this work at ESGR, has been recognized by NJDOD and NJESGR, in awarding Louis , Volunteer Of The Year. Presenting the award is State ESGR Chair Donald Tretola, and Assistant Adjacent General, NJ DOD, Brig. General Ferrara.
ESGR, a DOD office, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR facilitates and promotes a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve service by developing and advocating mutually beneficial initiatives, recognizing outstanding employer support, increasing awareness of applicable laws and policies, resolving potential conflicts between employers and their service members, and acting as the employers’ principal advocate within DOD. Paramount to ESGR’s mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.
A veteran, whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reservist is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life.
Lou DiGeronimo’s Sandy recovery plan wasn’t new. The Paramus architect is an old pro who believed in a common sense solutions: Come up with a few standard models, buy and construct in bulk, streamline the permit process and get people back home.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Levittowns – soup-to-nut cities of 50,000 people – were built in three years or less. Why should this disaster recovery take so long?
History was on DiGeronimo’s side. In April 1906, half of San Francisco’s population of 250,000 was left homeless after a historic earthquake and fire. Within months, the U.S. Army and the city parks department hammered out 5,300 durable wooden shacks, first put in camps, then successfully moved to properties around the city. How durable? One just sold in Telegraph Hill for $765,000.
In this century, Marianne Cusato, a designer and professor of practice at Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, did something similar after Hurricane Katrina. She designed 14 models of Katrina Cottages, ranging from 600 to 1,200 square feet. Three hundred permanent structures were built in Louisiana; a few hundred of her mobile units replaced FEMA trailers in Mississippi.
DiGeronimo is a Columbia-educated architect and no stranger to the idea of smart, uniformed construction. He and his wife Suzanne own DiGeronimo PC Architects and have 90 years of experience between them. Lou DiGeronimo was a member of the team that wrote the state’s uniformed building codes in the mid-’70s.
Since uniformity often translates to efficiency, DiGeronimo saw the Sandy recovery as a chance to build quality houses quickly on the massive scale needed to get people back in their homes.
“The recovery was basically a $3 billion federal housing project and it should have been run that way,” he said.
DiGeronimo came up with six prototypes for wind- and flood-resistant houses, all to be elevated on steel helical piles, which would be screwed into the ground and have a steel house frame bolted to them.
“It was cost effective, satisfied all FEMA requirements and could be built all year round,” DiGeronimo said. “The supplies – the windows, doors, everything – could have been bought in bulk. The permit and coding process could have been streamlined, and we wouldn’t have the mess we have today.
“Instead, it takes every single homeowner nine months to go through the local planning board and get the permits, and submit drawings, and, if one little thing is wrong, you go to the back of the line,” he said. “And these people are trying to do this all while they’re displaced.”
He tried to get the state interested in such a process, but it went nowhere. DiGeronimo isn’t even sure where it died, only that the Department of Community Affairs “refused to sit down with us.”
DiGeronimo said this as he walked through Union Beach, where 1,500 homes were badly damaged by Sandy. Now, three years later, the evidence of its impact is all around: vacant lots, boarded-up homes and the sounds of demolition and construction filling the air.
And not just in Union Beach, but in Highlands, where a new demolition contract has just been rewarded to take down a few dozen destroyed properties. And in Mantoloking and Ortley Beach, and Shore Acres in Brick, and the Silverton section of Toms River, and in Beach Haven West and Mystic Island.
In all these places – and in Moonachie and Little Falls, and the Ironbound section of Newark where wrecked homes remain boarded up and untouched – the question remains, “What’s taking so long?”
Bill Levitt, the father of modern suburbia, built his cities in less time on potato and corn fields in Long Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The three Levittowns (New Jersey’s changed its name back to Willingboro) had about 17,000 homes, new water and sewer lines, roads and sidewalks, and schools and other public buildings.Yet three years after Sandy – and 10 years after Katrina – the scars of destruction remain visible and thousands of people are still homeless.
And for those who argue that cookie-cutter homes would be an aesthetic insult to the Jersey Shore … please.
Excise beachfront mansions from the equation and you’ll find that many of the beach and bay-front communities devastated by the hurricane were developed in exactly the same way. Quickly, uniformly and efficiently.
DiGeronimo and Cusato both think such an approach would actually improve the aesthetic.
In Union Beach, DiGeronimo stood at the beachfront, where he envisioned two vacant lots being turned into a welcoming green space that opens the vista of the Raritan Bay. The mishmash of homes nearby – some still vacant – do not reflect a style or period, such as, say, a place like Ocean Grove.
“We had a chance to build it safer and better, and we blew it,” said DiGeronimo. “Instead, we have chaos.”
“We had designs that treat the home with reverence,” Cusato said. “They fit the architecture of the area. These were not shipping container homes or art school projects. They were dignified structures.”
Cusato asks why disaster recovery is not a national campaign issue. It’s a good question, considering the magnitude of problems with Katrina and Sandy during two administrations.
“We haven’t gotten this right,” she said. “And it’s going to happen again. We need a preemptive plan, so when the disaster happens, we’re ready with home models that can be adapted to the region.”
Suzanne DiGeronimo, FAIA, President of DiGeronimo Architects, participated on a panel discussion at two Sustainable Design Workshops presented by DPC Associates, in Tenafly, NJ and on Long Island. The panelists, all leaders in the construction community, led discussions with the 250 attendees on constructability issues of green building, following a screening of “The Greening of Southie.” The documentary shows how developing a LEED Gold apartment building in a working class neighborhood educated the whole community about sustainability. The workshop qualified for AIA Continuing Education Credits.