Over a year after Hurricanes Irma and María made landfall in the Caribbean and caused catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico, the island is still reeling. Thousands remain without basic necessities, hundreds still don’t have power, roofless homes covered in blue tarps are collapsing, and roads remain inaccessible. Yet, while the island struggles to recover, it must somehow also find a way to brace itself for future extreme weather events. It must rebuild—and, in doing so, it must build for resilience.
When University of Puerto Rico alumna Yanel de Ángel, an architect at Perkins+Will, visited the island to participate in volunteer recovery efforts, she saw firsthand the challenges plaguing the communities there. She realized that full disaster relief and resilience planning would require the collective contributions of many. So she spearheaded a campaign to attract partners in academia, private industry, and the nonprofit and civic realms to come together and devise implementable recovery and resilience strategies—everything from risk analyses and planning to architecture and design.
The campaign started with a planned symposium—a forum for an exchange of ideas and solutions with key stakeholders—which is in the process of being scheduled. But the campaign quickly evolved into something much bigger: a long-term commitment by a robust (and growing!) alliance of local and global organizations to provide disaster relief and protection to Puerto Rico through resilience planning and design. The goal: to build a resilient Puerto Rico.
Today, the alliance is steered by Yanel de Ángel, Associate Principal at Perkins+Will; Yarice Hidalgo, Development Strategist, and Non-Profit Consultant; Dr. Humberto Cavallín, Associate Professor at UPR School of Architecture; Dr. Cecilio García, Associate Professor at UPR and Co-Founder of Instituto Nacional de Energía y Sostenibilidad Isleña (INESI); Dr. Marla Pérez Lugo, Associate Professor at UPR and Co-Founder of INESI; Ramón Bueno, Climate Change and Development Specialist; and Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz, Architect and President and Co-Founder of Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón Architecture & Interior Design.