Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction

by Architecture for Humanity
Reflecting on 2 years since Hurricane Sandy
Reflecting on 2 years since Hurricane Sandy

Since we started our first year of aid in the Tri-State area, we discovered that as a region, the devastation left by the storm exposed the fragility of our built environment – how prepared or unprepared we were in our properties, our neighborhoods, and our selves. We have seen the large-scale destruction of homes, businesses, streets, and communities. 

More importantly though as we remember today, is that we have moved from recovery to reconstruction.  No longer are we “victims” of Sandy’s wrath. We continue to actively seek opportunities to guide and create a better built environment for those that call this region home.

In the coming months, the Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction program will continue to support and provide resources within our abilities to more property owners, organizations, and municipalities to create sustainable, mitigated, adapted, resilient, and timeless homes, businesses, and communities.  We will continue to explore new and enhance current relationships with like-minded partners to truly make this a place to call home. 

As we look ahead, we also want to celebrate a year of reflection, learning, and progress. We set out to focus on the vulnerable communities and demographics with the greatest need for design and construction services.  Using the power of design to rebuild sustainably and more resiliently, we completed several components of our initial goals:

    • Early in 2014, we completed our pilot program of the Sandy Design Help Desk.  Starting in Far Rockaway, Queens, and ending in Red Hook, Brooklyn, we offered free design consultations to a wide variety of property owners.  The consultations offered owners the opportunity to meet with the design professionals that we trained in resilient, sustainable design methodology to provide opportunities to reconstruct their homes and businesses in a responsible manner.
    • In late May and early June, our design and construction teams broke ground at Toms River High School North (Toms River, New Jersey) and Washington School (Little Ferry, New Jersey), respectively.  The construction teams progressed through the summer months and, in early September, completed the reconstruction work on time and on budget.
    • After this summer’s tourist season ended, we started construction on the sunshade structures on Seaside Heights’ historic boardwalk.  These structures were designed with resilience and timeless thought and are now complete.
    • In the spring of this year, we authored and launched our Resilience through Education and Design Centers.  Focusing on assisting small property owners still recovering from the effects of Sandy, the program offers free design consultations through a design clinic where responsible, resilient, and sustainable solutions are offered.  The second phase of the program affords a client to receive pro bono design and construction services in reconstructing their property.
    • We have made great strides in identifying and collaborating with new partner organizations, as well as enhancing our existing relationships toward a common goal: to assist the people who live and work around New York City and the Tri-State region to create a more resilient network of communities for generations to come.
    • We have identified that there remains a significant need in the region for our services.  Too many people still have difficulty asking the question, “How do I begin to think about rebuilding, let alone do it, and protect my home and family from future storms?”  There are thousands of property owners who still need that question answered. We continue to receive compelling stories from individual property owners seeking sources to reconstruct their homes and businesses.


We have learned much about what we can do and, equally important, what we should not do in the future.  We have seen design competitions present hundreds of incredible ideas that attempt to solve reconstruction challenges in our area in an innovative, resilient, and sustainable manner. We have learned how to help ourselves, how to help our neighbors, communities, and the region.

ReNew Schools: Washington School, Little Ferry NJ
ReNew Schools: Washington School, Little Ferry NJ
ReNew Schools: Toms River High School North, NJ
ReNew Schools: Toms River High School North, NJ
Restore the Shore, Seaside Heights, NJ
Restore the Shore, Seaside Heights, NJ
Sandy Design Help Desk
Sandy Design Help Desk


REDC Seaside Heights
REDC Seaside Heights

Some outstanding activity was seen in the Sandy program last month. The ReNew Schools program commenced construction at two of the schools; while our Restore the Shore program went out to bid and launched a new initiative.

The new program element is entitled: the Resilience through Education and Design Center (REDC). Partnering with disaster case management organizations local to each community, the intent of this program is to provide property owners an opportunity to receive free design consultations from trained architects and engineers in the latest resilience and sustainable design/building methodology. Once a client receives their consultation, they are eligible to receive further design and construction assistance within the program. The consultations were held on the weekend of July 19th with a great success to which 15 clients attended.

In July, we also doubled our staff by welcoming two outstanding individuals. Lila Tedesco and Mika Flomin joined our team as volunteers. Each bring their passion to help rebuild and guide the metropolitan New York region into greater resilience. Both assisted our team during the Sandy Design Help Desk held last and earlier this year, caught the bug, and now are welcome additions to our team.



ReNew Schools: Washington School

With the school year ending much later than usual (due to an inordinate amount of snow days), the painters have finally been able to roll into the gymnasium and paint the walls...complete with bouncing ball graphics! Installation of the new rubberized surface is next, allowing the community access to the space after a two-year closure.

ReNew Schools: Toms River High School North

Construction is moving forward. The ticket booth has been framed out, and the press box is following close behind.

ReNew Schools: Memorial School

The design team at Pennoni has been plugging away at design documentation for the field reconstruction, and the design of the dugouts at the softball and baseball diamonds. We're on track to have the work completed so we can start and ultimately finish the construction before the start of soccer season in September.

Restore the Shore

Trinity Construction, selected to build the sunshade structures, met with the Team to walk through the proposed locations along the boardwalk. The team investigated the boardwalk's pile foundations to understand how they will begin tying in the sunshade's cantilevered construction.



FEMA Region 2 ICP Workshops - August 12 and 13:
The 2nd Annual Individual and Community Preparedness Workshop; Enhancing Community Preparedness through Collaboration



Project Name | Project Stage | % Stage Complete

Restore the Shore  CA  5%

ReNew Schools: Washington School, Little Ferry  CA  15%

ReNew Schools: Toms River High School North, Toms River  CA  25%

ReNew Schools: Memorial School, Union Beach  CD  95%

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

Washington School Elementary gymnasium
Washington School Elementary gymnasium
Toms River High School North
Toms River High School North
Restore the Shore - sunshades for boardwalk
Restore the Shore - sunshades for boardwalk


In February, the design team for the ReNew Schools: Toms River High School North held their second community meeting on site, where pro-bono architect, Craig Brearley presented revised design drawings of the stadium entrance plaza and support buildings, taking the feedback gathered from the first community workshop held last October.

Toms River High School North is the larger of three high schools that serve the Toms River Regional Schools, with 2,400 students. With their high dedication to sport (the majority of the student population play some form of intra or inter-mural sport), the school is invested in getting facilities back up and running.

This community meeting was attended by both students and community members, who gave enthusiastic comments and feedback that would be considered in finalizing the design. As a bonus, the regional school district's very own TV-21 crew was there to document the event. TV-21 is a unique radio and TV program lead by Chip Phillips and run by broadcast and journalism students in the school district. After intently filming and interviewing the design team throughout the day, the talented students put together a short clip, that summarizes the project.

See the video below, featuring Regional Program Coordinator, Brian Baer, and lead architect, Craig Brearly!


Jan 2014 Sandy Newsletter Banner

Happy New Year! The year starts off with exciting news: our projects are moving along as our design teams race off with many exciting design ideas!


Restore the Shore

This month, careful coordination and plenty of meetings left the project team with a host of information to process, decisions to make and many new ideas to share. We began working with the Seaside Heights' future events center manager to refine the program and community needs and are grateful for the insights. The Army Corps of Engineers continue to discuss and plan the coastal sand dunes planned for Seaside Heights and we are evaluating its impact on the design. The design team led by Gensler’s Morristown office is at the drawing board developing schematic design options before the open house event.

The Community Open House will take place on Tuesday February 4th, 2014 from 5:30pm-7:30pm, Seaside Heights Community Center, 1000 Bay Blvd. The Open House is an opportunity to hear about project updates and developments. Come see preliminary design ideas for the Events Center and have the opportunity to speak with the design team.


The design teams for the school projects are working diligently to complete schematic designs. Washington School, Little Ferry will be holding a community open house on February 6, 6:00pm - 7:30pm in their Media Center, and Toms River High School North will be holding one in the next few weeks as well. Information to come soon!


Support communities who need to rebuild by sharing our message with your friends and family.

Thank you in advance for your support.


Today we remember the tragic effects of Hurricane Sandy as it struck countless communities and individuals throughout the East Coast. Our dedication to working with and to helping communities continues to stand strong as we pave a path towards a more resilient and sustainable future for New York and New Jersey residents.

Working with Communities to Build Back Better
Letter from Rachel Minnery, New York Regional Program Manager

In its 15-year history, Architecture for Humanity has launched nine post-disaster programs worldwide, but when the largest hurricane on record hit the largest city in the United States in the very last days of hurricane season, we knew it would be something different.

Five million individuals affected by the storm were facing a long road ahead. We remain compassionately committed to resilient post-disaster reconstruction because we know from our years of work with survivor communities that there is no easy button, no off-the-shelf solutions at the local hardware store, and very little light shed on the path forward for those needing to rebuild their lives. Architecture for Humanity created a program to focus on the communities with the greatest need for design and construction services. We wouldn’t just build back – we would help survivors build back better, stronger, and more resiliently. I am honored to work for some incredibly strong, warm and wonderful survivors, and very grateful to our many partners, funders, volunteers and collaborators who have generously offered their time and support where there is still overwhelming need.

...Continue reading Rachel's letter here.

In this update:

Spotlight Sandy Design Help Desk Complete

Sandy Design Help Desk Meets the Rockaways

For one week in October, the NY regional office in collaboration with partners including Enterprise Community Partners Inc., NYC Office of Housing Recovery, Pratt Center for Community Development and Margert Community Corporation, created a pilot project to pair trained volunteer architects and designers with Sandy-affected home and business owners, who have questions about their rebuilding options, building codes and design issues.

Read more about the Sandy Design Help Desk here.

In August, the Sandy team met with a group of Rockaway homeowners, to hear their concerns and needs, to discuss the rebuilding process, and to share our homeowners resource, The Sandy Puzzle: Piecing Together the Rebuilding Resources for Your Home.

updates Extending Impact

Extending impact: Symposiums, Lectures and Training

Collaboration, plus the sharing of knowledge and expertise with community members and the design and humanitarian community, is key in the long-term rebuilding process. From post-Sandy response training for our NY Chapter, to follow up Safety Assessment Program (SAP) training for NY architects, to this month's anniversary-related symposiums, we are dedicated to sharing best practices and lessons learned with all those wanting to participate in the rebuilding process.

Watch an interview with Rachel Minnery, New York Regional Program Manager who discusses the role of architects in disaster response and recovery as part of her contribution to the The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice published by the American Institute of Architects, here.

Neighborhood Assessment Report

Neighborhood Assessment Report: How communities were impacted by Sandy

Assisting the Reconstruction and Resiliency Studio in understanding the true needs existing within New York City's coastal communities, the New York Chapter became the eyes and ears on the ground as we developed an appropriate response program.

Data gathering is essential in any post-disaster situation, first to understand the needs then to coordinate response effort. In the weeks following Sandy, the NY Chapter gathered and trained hundreds of volunteers in community field assessments in neighborhoods throughout New York City. The interviews and information gathered were documented in the Neighborhood Assessment Report. Read more about this report here.

On the Ground: Projects in progress

On the Ground: Projects in progress

As projects move forward the team is thrilled to lead three exciting community workshops for the communities of Seaside Heights (today, 10/29), Tom's River (10/31) and Little Ferry (11/6), New Jersey. Working hand-in-hand with individuals in the community and listening to their needs and ideas, is essential in a participatory community design process. It makes the places we create more successful and the work far more rewarding. Together, we are helping to build a unified vision for a more sustainable and resilient future for affected areas. We have a deep gratitude for those who have made this work possible. While we can't always acknowledge our donors individually in the construction itself, donors to the Restore the Shore program will be able to find their names on dedicated planks along the boardwalk.

Keep track of our projects on our Hurricane Sandy program page on the Open Architecture Network.

In Progress:

Thank You

Only possible with your support.
The work of Architecture for Humanity and the Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction Program is possible with the support of hundreds of individuals and organizations. A special thank you goes out to the following organizations:

Funding Partners
20x200, 495 Productions, After the Storm, American Institute of Architects, Aronson's Inc, Autodesk, Inc., Big League Dreams, LLC, Cecilia McConnell, Earthcolor, Inc, Evco Global Inc, EYP, Inc, Fashion Girls for Humanity, Fifth & Pacific, GlobalGiving, Harrah's Atlantic City Operating Co. LLC, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, HMC Designing Futures Foundation, James Perse, Jillian Emery, John P. & Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation, Modell's Sporting Goods, MTV Networks, NEP Snooki Enterprises, Nike Inc., Omaze, Razoo Foundation, Run4NJ, Score the Shore, Scott Marshall, The Eileen Fisher Foundation, Viacom International Inc., VPL, XL Construction, and many more.

Acari+Iovino Architects, American Institute of Architects New Jersey, American Institute of Architects New York and the Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee, American Institute of Architects Disaster Assistance Committee, American Planning Association New Jersey, Andrew Franz Architect, PLLC, Architecture for Humanity NYC Chapter, Arup, Cannon Design, Chris Sullivan, Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, C.W. Brearley Architects, Emerging New York Architects, Enterprise Community Partners Inc., Gensler - Morristown Office, Google, Illya Azaroff, Indiegogo, Innogive Foundation, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union, Jennifer Dunn, Jesse Keenan, Lance Jay Brown, Margert Development Corporation, MASNYC, Michael Green Architects, MobileCause, New Jersey Institute of Technology, NYC Dept. of Buildings, NYC Dept. of Education, NYC Housing Preservation and Development, NYC Office of Emergency Management, NYC Office of Housing Recovery, NYC School Construction Authority, Perkins+Will, Pratt Center for Community Development, Pratt Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, Solar One, St. Bernard Project, The Wexler Family, Turner & Townsend Ferzan Robbins, Zach Rice, and many more.

A special thank you to all the volunteers who dedicated their time to helping in the Sandy response efforts and who continue tirelessly to volunteer their skills and knowledge to help others. 

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Organization Information

Architecture for Humanity

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Architecture for Humanity
Project Leader:
Architecture for Humanity
San Francisco, CA United States

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