From tiny New Jersey Shore bungalows to Manhattan high-rises, properties were caught unprepared for the might of Superstorm Sandy. Now architects are grappling with the stark reality that many structures were not designed to withstand a changing climate. As the rebuilding process begins, so do complicated discussions about how to adapt existing buildings. The growing consensus is that they, too, must change with the climate.
“There is an overwhelming sense that we have to do something different. We were caught flat-footed, and we can’t have that happen again,” says Russell Unger, executive director of the Urban Green Council (UGC). Two weeks after the storm, New York City tapped UGC to lead a Building Resiliency Task Force. The first job is to compile a list of about 100 members from the building community, including property owners and managers, cost experts, engineers, and designers. Then findings and recommendations for adapting buildings will be released this summer.