Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina will be the focus of a Friday morning discussion at NJIT between a New Orleans designer instrumental in helping that city rebuild and planner Thomas Dallessio, the project manager of NJIT’s new Center for Resilient Design. Daniel Etheridge, assistant director of the Tulane City Center, and adjunct assistant professor of architecture will detail his experiences with Dallessio as both discuss best ways to proceed for anyone needing help from the storm. The event which is free and open to the public is set for 11:30 a.m. in the AIA Room, Weston Hall of NJIT’s College of Architecture and Design. For more information, contact Dallessio at 609-647-1538. The NJIT Center was born from the catastrophic fury wrought upon New Jersey by Hurricane Sandy.Since last November, Dallessio, a planner by training, has led NJIT’s vision to help rebuild New Jersey starting with a meeting on campus that informed about 60 interested students, faculty and staff on the need for help, plus solicited ideas for suggested projects.
From those humble beginnings, the effort has moved into action. “It’s a three-part plan,” said Dallessio, a lifelong New Jersey resident himself, who now lives in Hopewell. “We’re learning as we go, which the Katrina people tell me is the way it happened for them. Some things you can’t plan.”
The Center now offers municipalities-- and others-- a NJIT clearinghouse where local, state and federal officials, businesses and residents can call (973-596-5872) and pose questions on best rebuilding practices, materials suggested and more. Over 20 architecture classes known as studios have also been charged with the task of developing new ideas for rebuilding selected projects located in New Jersey – from the Jersey Shore to the Bay Shore extending from Perth Amboy to Sea Bright.
And, calls continue to circulate seeking volunteers—either college students or others— for NJIT’s Alternative Spring Break to help municipal, social service, community and/or faith-based groups recover from Sandy. “We’re asking for any amount time people feel they can donate,” said Dallessio. “If you can give us a day, that’s fine. A week is terrific.” Specific projects will be scheduled during NJIT’s March 16-24, 2013 Spring Break. But other time slots will be available in the weeks before and after for volunteers, perhaps from other colleges, with available time. The effort will focus on rebuilding selected hard-hit homes, buildings or parks highlighted by NJIT.
Volunteers will receive work instructions and must arrive on the NJIT campus at a specific time and place. They will then be transported in groups to the work location. “Right now, we believe it’s best to do it this way, because many of these areas, can’t have a lot of cars coming through,” Dallessio said.
“We may not be rebuilding boardwalks,” he noted. “But we’ll be helping residents, businesses and towns recover and rebuild in many small and large ways. And we will try to honor requests for specific jobs.” Assignments will probably include cleaning up beaches and/or parks; deconstructing homes (i.e., pulling out wall boards, shoveling mud out of basements), building new structures, finishing work such as painting or simple carpentry; and survey work such as collecting data and information.
Although the university can’t offer college credit for the work, volunteers will receive a t-shirt and food and drinks throughout their work day(s). “We will encourage volunteers to take photos,” Dallessio said. “And, hope they leave with very special memories.”