November 15, 2016 / Advocacy

Commitment to Social Resiliency

resilient competition at city hall

B|MORE Resilient Design Competition exhibit at City Hall

By Martina Reilly, AIA – COTE | R Co-Chair, AIABaltimore Board of Directors
Our city changes every day.  It has been rocked by major storms, suffered through infrastructure failures, and weathered the trials of social unrest. I volunteered with AIA to start an initiative centered on resilient design that looks beyond buildings to the people and communities who dwell within them. Resilient design looks at how architecture, urban design, and infrastructure can make communities stronger and bring people together in the face of adversity.
This past year, the Committee on the Environment and Resiliency (COTE | R) at AIABaltimore focused a lot of effort specifically on social resiliency: highlighting strategies that help create jobs, and benefit the environment and the local community. We hosted a presentation featuring winners from our B-MORE Resilient Design Competition to share how their ideas could positively impact social resiliency in a neighborhood with an abundance of vacant houses. We had a panel about how contractors are giving people who come out of prison a second chance by providing job training and work placement building sustainable housing.  When the flood ravaged nearby Ellicott City, AIABaltimore developed a quick guide of resources for resilient design strategies to share with the community.  We have done many things to encourage and promote resilient design, but we can always do more.
When communities are resilient, they can quickly bounce back from any hardship. The first step towards resiliency is unity: coming together with a common purpose for the good of the work to be done.  Our Baltimore community is very diverse, with many different people from many different backgrounds with many different stories.  As architects, it is our duty to listen to these stories and protect the health, safety, and welfare of every person, and strive to make our communities as resilient as possible as we face whatever change may come.