Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999. We are building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design.
Feb 6, 2013

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: February 2013

Tohoku Newsletter Banner January 2013


2013 has quickly kicked off, and our projects are moving along!  Kitakami "We Are One" Collaborative officially opened last month, Maeami-hama Community house is scheduled for completion in the next few weeks, and we have welcomed many into MakiBiz with seminars and consultations.  Read updates below for a glimpse of what's been happening.  

February brings three holidays commonly celebrated in Japan (only one is a national holiday).

Feb. 3rd - Setsubun (beginning of Spring)
Although this is not a national holiday, it is celebrated by many nationwide.  This event occurs one day before spring, according to the Japanese Lunar Calendar and is now most commonly celebrated with the ritual of throwing roasted beans around the house and at temples and shrines yelling "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!"  This scares out the evil spirits from entering, and keeps happiness inside.

Feb. 11 - Kenkoku kinenbi (National Foundation Day)
On this day in 600 BC, the first Japanese emperor was crowned.  This is the only national holiday in this month.  However, celebrations of this day are relatively muted since expressions of nationalism are rare.

Feb. 14 - Valentine's Day
In Japan, this day is celebrated slightly differently where only women give chocolates to men.  Men return this gift a month later, on "White Day" (March 14).

The coldest month of the year has passed, and we can look forward to a slight rise in temperatures as we move into February.  This coming month, two of our staff will be heading to Tohoku.  Look forward to reports from them when they return.

Stay warm and take care!


Architecture for Humanity

*As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.  


MAKOTO seminar January 11MakiBiz

Our first regional office in Japan, MakiBiz has been up and running since the end of November.  Our staff has been providing business support for many clients, and have completed hosting our series of 6 MAKOTO Business Seminars, over a period of 3 months.  The seminars were attended by many in the community, with high satisfaction.  Look forward to new seminars to come.


Kitakami project completedKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  (completed)

Construction has been completed and the center officially opened its doors on January 23rd!  With the center open, several programs have already been scheduled to take place in the new building.  See images and a more detailed report here.


Maeami-hama interior under constructionMaeami-hama Community House (in construction)

Construction is still moving along.  Most of the building was assembled in a matter of weeks and the building is targeted for completion at the end of February.

Again, frequent construction updates on this project can be found on KMDW (the architect of record)'s facebook page (in Japanese only). We will also be providing periodically summarized updates from these posts here, so stay tuned (our most recent post found here)!



3.11 Anniversary

The two-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami is coming up.  We will be launching a campaign to commemorate this event in support of the people in Tohoku who are still working to recover and rebuild.  Stay tuned.




In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya"  - CA 98%
Maeami-hama Community House  - CA 70%

Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  - completed Dec/2012

Akahama Covered Alley  - Completed Jul/2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative  - Completed Jul/2012
Paper Crane Sculpture  - Completed Jan/2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku  - Completed Dec/2011
Ohya Green Sports Park  - Completed Dec/2011
Hikado Marketplace  - Completed Jul/2011

CA Construction Administration ; CD Construction Documents ; DD Design Development ; SD Schematic Design ; PD Pre-Design - About the Phases


Jan 29, 2013

Project development & designer recruitment

The conversation and coordination expanded in December and January as our 600-strong NYC Chapter stepped up to assist in community surveys and we meet with local officials to determine where we can make the largest impact.

Efforts are ramping up - we have secured a permanent office and have begun recruiting staff for project execution.

At present we have launched the following:

Further Prospects for Seaside Heights

We've been working with the City of Seaside Heights identifying critical projects while the Sandy Aid package makes its way through Congress. The bill's passage would be a critical asset to reconstruction, but our conversations revolve around community assets that could easily be overlooked in the broader recovery.

As actions are being taken to get the Boardwalk rebuilt for the Summer, projects to benefit full-time Seaside Heights residents are being identified, as Mayor Bill Akers recently mentioned. We're excited to confirm these projects in the next couple weeks.

Community Surveys

Since November the New York City chapter has been collecting stories and needs of community members around New Jersey and New York States. To date, 11 neighborhoods have been assessed, with 60 surveys completed. Simultaneously the chapters are evaluating conditions of schools - identifying critical conditions, and building partnerships to reclaim spaces from the superstorm's destruction.

The surveyors will share their findings at the next NYC Chapter meeting on February 5th (7PM); experiences and next steps will both be discussed. Visit to the NYC Chapter page for more information.

Join our team

The first stage of long-term reconstruction is coming to a close. We have established a presence and base of operations in the New York / New Jersey area, and are now recruiting to grow our team and capacity as projects solidify and design gets into full swing through the rest of Winter.

Currently we are recruiting a full-time Regional Program Manager to carry the program through the long-term, and are also recruiting design fellows: one to coordinate Restore the Shore, our work in Seaside Heights, New Jersey; a second to coordinate ReNew York / New Jersey school reconstruction.

Special thanks to Seattle Chapter head Steve Dombrowski introduced us to his family in Seaside Heights and our first bungalow-based regional office.

Jan 24, 2013

Bati Byen: 2012 Year in Review

Bati Byen: Rebuilding in Haiti 2012 Year in Review

“Where would we be without you!?! The expertise you've provided and the partners you've connected us to have fueled our vision.”
- John Engle, Co-Director, Haiti Partners

“I admire the participatory and collaborative method of Architecture for Humanity. It’s an approach that has impressed a lot of people. We have faith that the project will come off properly.”
- Will Civil, member of Komite Humanitaire de Villa Rosa and resident of Morne Rosa

"Among our students, some may become lawyers, other doctors or architects to help this country, and the first step is this school."
- Wilson d'Or, Headmaster, Collège Mixte Le Bon Berger, Montrouis

Our third annual update on our long-term post disaster work in Haiti finds the Rebuilding Center continuing its holistic strategy to rebuild buildings, neighborhoods, industries and economies. We would like take a moment today and bring our supporters and fans up to speed on our progress, and to thank them for their continued support and enthusiasm for our work. Thank you.

In 2012 we continued our well-regarded work in construction outreach, training and design services, have built exciting partnerships with local Haitian banks to support business loan programs, and have established a strong community-based planning platform for the grassroots development and strengthening of neighborhoods. The Center was able to expand the scope of its services by launching three autonomous studios: Architecture and Construction; Planning; and Economic Development. This arrangement allows for more specialized pursuit of a broader range of projects while improving collaboration within the Rebuilding Center. See below for more details on each of these studios.

The Rebuilding Center also continues to transition to Haitian ownership and operation. We have brought all administration and management roles in-house, most of which being performed by Haitian nationals. This transition is crucial to the success of the Center as a Haitian effort to perpetuate good construction and collaboration years into the future.

Our Impact

The impact metrics below reflect our work as of January 12, 2013:

6.3 million Dollars in construction funding leveraged by the Rebuilding Center in 2012 alone
48,000 Beneficiaries from clinics built in 2012
2100 Students gaining access to safe & delightful classrooms last year
400 Haitian jobs created or recovered in 2012
Hundreds of design and construction professionals participating in our monthly Meet n Greet open house and Haitian lecture series
46 Participants of 10 professional seminars to date
36 Community design workshops and charrettes held to date, with an average of 25 people attending each charrette
32 Architects, engineers and support staff at the Rebuilding Center - including 4 long-term professional volunteers and 22 Haitian staffers
9 School projects - 3 fully complete, 4 completed phase one or partially open, 2 in construction
9 Projects completed in 2012, with 7 in design and construction, and still others in initial stages of development

Video Highlights

Video: Artists for Haiti
Architecture for Humanity:
Haiti Rebuilding Center

Artists for Haiti & Ciné Institute

Video: Students Rebuild
A Story of Youth in Action
Students Rebuild

Video: Frederic King
Haiti Redux (Trailer)
Frederic King

2012 Milestones

Pathway improvements in Saint Marie





In an effort to address more systemic challenges, the Rebuilding Center formalized a Planning Studio and team to lead outreach and mapping, workshops and charrettes, and partnerships that empower neighborhood residents to rebuild their communities.

Haiti Rural Mapping Initiative
With a grant from the WK Kellogg Foundation, Architecture for Humanity has completed the physical mapping of 11 communes across southern and central Haiti. This represents 25% of the country and for many towns and villages is the first time these areas have been mapped. All maps were incorporated into the online open source platform and integrated into the national geospatial database. Design Fellow and project manager Olivia Stinson explains how it all got done.

Villa Rosa and Sainte Marie
The Rebuilding Center completed the Community Action Plan for this primarily informal Port-au-Prince neighborhood in collaboration with Cordaid, UN Habitat and many other partners. This included extensive reconstruction of physical infrastructure, public spaces and housing. Rebuilding Center volunteer Nazanin Mehregan discusses the community mapping and workshop process that informs community plans.

Community led sports court     construction in Villa Rosa 





Design & Construction

Construction Program
The big success story of the year has been the in-house construction work carried out by our Construction Management Team. This work builds on the construction outreach program whereby our engineers have been trained in design and construction and are now acting as small scale contractors on a variety of on-budget, on-schedule, autonomous projects including the Elie Dubois Kitchen and Villa Rosa's Infrastructure and Basketball Court.

In March 2010 we set out to design and build 10 schools on a phased basis. While we still do not have all the funding required, 3 are now fully complete, phase 1 at 3 more is now complete and ongoing on the other schools, and phase 2 is underway on 6 schools. The program is growing steadily and the unique character of each school is being complemented by a piece of commissioned civic art.

Three primary care facilities were completed in 2012. These clinics provide essential daily care to thousands of people, particularly in rural areas.

Property Law Working Group
The Rebuilding Center is participating in an interdisciplinary working group assessing, clarifying and proposing reforms to Haiti's property law system, widely viewed as an obstruction to permanent reconstruction around the country. The final report of the first year's research is expected in early 2013. Planning Design Fellow Rickie Siegel explains the complex factors that the Group is addressing. We will post the report as soon as it is available on the Rebuilding Center update page.

A     woodworking shop on Route de Delmas





Economic Development

Much progress has been made this year on a small and medium enterprise (SME) loan program - a first for Haitian banks financing business reconstruction. At this writing, 12 loans are going through due diligence at four banks, and a fifth local bank has expressed interest in the program.

Discussions relating to housing microfinance loans have been ongoing with local and international institutions.

Project Overview

For a full list of our active (15) and completed (19) projects, please visit the Haiti Rebuilding Center Project Hub Page.

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