Natural Disasters and the Built Environment: Questions of Speed and Response

Presented November 17, 2017 at the Civita Institute's fundraising event

ROB CORSER, AIA is an architect and educator who has worked in the US, Italy and most recently at ARUP’s Advanced Geometry Unit in London. Educated at the University of Virginia and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he has won numerous academic and design awards including Harvard’s 2003 Peter Rice Prize for the integration of engineering and architecture. Design Intelligence magazine named him one of the “30 Most Admired Educators” in the US for 2013. He taught at Syracuse University and the University of Kansas before joining the faculty at the University of Washington where he teaches design studios and digital fabrication courses and leads the Collab|Fab studio. His recent courses and leads the Collab|Fab studio. His recent book, Fabricating Architecture –Selected Readings in Digital Design and Manufacturing, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. Corser’s work, and that of his students, has earned several AIA awards and has been exhibited widely, including in “Design for the Other 90 Percent” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Wildfires, Climate Change. Our human inhabitation of the world has always been set against natural forces: earth, wind, water and fire. But all of these challenges are not equal – some effects happen quickly and directly, with little warning but clear consequences, while others happen little by little with vague or easily ignored impacts. This talk will address both fast and slow disaster scenarios and the implications for the design of our built environments. Examples will be drawn from experiences with Hurricane Katrina on the US gulf coast, and re-building efforts in rural Tuscany. We will conclude with speculations on the geological issues present around the Pacific Rim and in Civita di Bagnoregio in order to imagine how we might proactively prepare – both locally and globally - for natural disasters that are both fast and slow in their timeframes.

Learning Objective #1:
Attendees will learn about disaster dynamics: fast and slow – not all disasters are the same.

Learning Objective #2: 
Attendees will learn about socio-economic and ecological specificity – understanding the problems.

Learning Objective #3:
Attendees will learn what architects and designers can and can’t do – setting expectations and goals.

Learning Objective #4: 
Attendees will learn how to proactively prepare and effectively respond – both locally and globally.