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For Immediate Release: January 29, 2014
Media Contacts: Emma Filar, Marketing & Communications Associate
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DESIGNING FOR DISASTER

New Multimedia Exhibition Explores How to Build Smarter and Stronger
Opens at the National Building Museum
May 2014

The International Hurricane Research Center features 12, six-foot tall fans—a virtual Wall of Wind™—capable of simulating Category 5 hurricanes to test the performance of structures and materials. Wall of Wind™, Florida International University, Miami, Florida.
The International Hurricane Research Center features 12, six-foot tall fans—a virtual Wall of Wind™—capable of simulating Category 5 hurricanes to test the performance of structures and materials. Wall of Wind™, Florida International University, Miami, Florida.


WASHINGTON, D.C.
—From earthquakes and hurricanes to rising sea levels and flooding, natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. Recent history shows that no region of the country is immune from the rising costs of storm and disaster damage. In light of this stark reality, the National Building Museum will present a multimedia exhibition titled Designing for Disaster, a call-to-action for citizen preparedness—from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school kids—investigating how and where to build communities that are safer and more disaster-resilient. The exhibition will open May 11, 2014 and remain on view through August 2, 2015.

Visitors to Designing for Disaster will explore new solutions for, and historical responses to, a range of natural hazards. Artifacts from past disasters, such as a door battered by Hurricane Katrina, will express the destructive, persistent, life-altering power of nature.

Not to be missed: a true-to-life, FEMA-specified “safe room”—one of the few defenses against a tornado or violent storm—in which exposed layers illustrate how it was built to withstand tornado-force winds and flying debris. And a “wall of wind” that invites visitors to test various roof profiles against simulated hurricane-force winds (modeled on Florida International University’s wind testing facility) to see which shape performs best.

Driven by ways to reduce risk before the next disaster, case studies will explore a range of flexible design and planning schemes, public policies, and new forecasting technologies. The scale is as varied as the solutions, from engineering advancements and seismic retrofits of esteemed historic buildings (University of California at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium) and bridges (Eastern Span of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge) to urgent, hands-on lessons, through models, animated drawings and interactive displays that demonstrate how to strengthen homes, hospitals, schools, landscapes, even oyster beds.

“In the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, it’s imperative, now more than ever, to actively identify and anticipate ways for buildings and landscapes to become more resilient,” says Chase Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum. “We hope to inspire conversation and ultimately action by first encouraging people to understand and accept their risk.”

Sign up here to receive updates on the exhibition, images, and exclusive previews.

Designing for Disaster is generously supported by Lafarge; The Home Depot Foundation; American Red Cross; Andersen Corporation; The Nature Conservancy; AECOM; Center for Disaster Philanthropy; National Endowment for the Arts; ASSA ABLOY; Construction Specialties, Inc.; National Fire Protection Association; United Technologies Corporation; U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency; Association of State Floodplain Managers and the Association of State Floodplain Managers Foundation; RenaissanceRe; Arup; and URS Corporation.

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, online content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit www.nbm.org. Connect with us on Twitter: @BuildingMuseum and Facebook.

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