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Regional architecture groups look at critical infrastructure in a post-Sandy world

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Chapters of the American Institute of Architects from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island held a “regional recovery working group” Friday on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, focusing on changes to critical infrastructure design in a post-Hurricane Sandy world.

The event was the third in a series of Sandy-related workshops. Others have looked at Sandy’s effects on cities and coastal communities.

Speakers from both the public and private sectors weighed in Friday, touching on issues concerning resiliency, design, building codes and the coordination on the parts of regional governing bodies.

“Forums like this are pretty awesome because it’s the idea exchange that happens,” said John Boulé, a vice president of global planning firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. “Brain cells start to knock against each other … and hopefully it will spur you to some action.”

Boulé discussed protecting transportation assets and rethinking planning strategies, namely by incorporating cost-benefit analysis into the framework.

“You have to come up with different ways of thinking about risk,” Boulé said.

Scott Davis, senior advisor in the office of the secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said that at the federal level, making progress after Sandy is the goal, but it’s difficult to put broad timetables on projects.

“I think we’re all looking to move forward as quickly as possible and some projects might be more complicated than others,” Davis said.

Davis added that he feels a focus point in the future for architecture groups and others in the industry will be turning resiliency into a household word, much like sustainability is today.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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