As Governor Haley Barbour’s Commission on Recovery, Renewal, and Rebuilding wraps up, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) praised the Governor’s efforts, especially the brainstorming sessions that produced a dialogue centering around the need for local architects to have an integral role in the rebuilding process, that sustainable design principles were emphasized, and that there will be a commitment to creating more livable communities so the affected gulf region can be rebuilt stronger.
During the commission, AIA representatives discussed several key ideas including:
•Building codes and zoning aimed at providing the utmost in safety and mitigation against future disasters;
•Legislation enabling fast-track permitting by architects;
•Focus on affordable housing and design solutions that benefit all economic strata;
•Environmentally conscientious design and planning principles;
•Transportation solutions to develop a more pedestrian-friendly environment; and
•Historic preservation concerns.
AIA Mississippi President Ann Somers says, “We were very encouraged that Governor Barbour repeatedly stressed the need for the local private sector to be a pivotal part of the monumental rebuilding effort in Mississippi throughout the commission meetings. The AIA firmly believes that local architects should have a leadership role in formulating and executing the agreed upon plan for rebuilding.”
As part of its commitment to the community, the AIA is offering free damage assessments to small business owners in Mississippi. In the first week of extending the offer, the AIA has taken more than one thousand applications for damage assessments. Somers also says, “Architects – with a deep knowledge of the history of the affected communities and a strong concern for the key issues associated with large-scale rebuilding – are an ideal resource to see that the best interests of the local citizens are realized.” AIA Mississippi, in conjunction with the AIA Disaster Assistance Program, will facilitate the assessments.
Joe Moravec, senior advisor, will serve as the primary liaison between the AIA and various federal agencies that are part of the overall post-hurricane rebuilding process. Moravec, who attended the rebuilding commission in Biloxi, MS, says, “The collaborative nature of the rebuilding commission is the ideal approach to take in determining the best course of action for how to proceed in terms of planning for the rebuilding of the Mississippi gulf region. One of the most viable ideas discussed for the continuation and implementation of the body of work developed this week is to form a Design Center on the coast. The Design Center can provide the framework needed to work along side other local design, planning, and construction professionals, as well as giving the communities a one stop shop for dealing with all of the associated issues of the long-term rebuilding process.”