Skip to main content
AIA Springfield

News / Articles

AIA Disaster Assistance Handbook highlights architects’ critical role in community resilience and di

Linden A Mueller  | Published on 3/28/2017

Third edition guides architects, built environment professionals, municipal governments, and emergency managers on working together to prepare for and respond to disasters.


Washington, D.C. – March 28, 2017 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today released a significantly enhanced version of its Disaster Assistance Handbook that will serve as a go-to resource  for architects, built environment professionals, municipal government officials and emergency managers involved in disaster mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. The revised Handbook also serves as a step-by-step guide for maximizing architects’ unique skills in addressing each phase of the disaster cycle.

The Handbook was developed by a nationwide team of AIA members and staff experienced in disaster response and preparedness, with contributions and review from industry experts and government officials. Key features of the Third Edition of the Handbook include:

  • A new chapter on hazard mitigation and risk reduction.
  • Detailed explanations of recent changes and advances in emergency management protocols.
  • Case studies, best practices and replicable projects from AIA chapters and members.

“As the frequency, severity and costs of natural and manmade hazards continue to impact the built environment, the unique skillsets that architects bring to all phases of emergency management are more critical than ever, “ said AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “The new Handbook shows architects everywhere how they can work with local governments to prepare for and respond to disasters, and how they can help enhance community resilience through individual client projects and participation in broader planning efforts.”

The Handbook’s new case studies catalogue best practices and lessons learned from every stage of the disaster cycle, including:

  • Innovative design of a community campground facility that also functions as a tornado shelter at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
  • Successful efforts by the New Hampshire Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force to draft and pass the state’s Good Samaritan legislation that enables a more efficient response effort by extending liability protections to architects and other built environment professionals for voluntary services they provide during government-declared disasters.
  • Critical post-disaster damage assessments following Hurricane Katrina (2005) and tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, AL (2011), providing much-needed resources to survey structures and allow people to either return to their homes or begin the rebuilding process more quickly.
  • Resilience-enhancing recovery efforts following destructive tornadoes in Greensburg, KS (2007) and after Hurricane Sandy (2012), including a “Design Help Desk” providing homeowners with free guidance on obtaining financial assistance and making repair and rebuilding decisions.

The Handbook is available now online, and ongoing outreach and education efforts are planned over the coming year. Learn more about the AIA Disaster Assistance Handbook and programs here: