Press Release

May 14, 2014

Exhibition at National Building Museum explores natural hazard risks and mitigation strategies

An exhibition sponsored by AECOM that explores natural disaster risks and mitigation strategies has opened at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Designing for Disaster exhibition is an engaging, multimedia call-to-action for citizen preparedness — from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school children. The exhibition will remain on view through Aug. 2, 2015.

From earthquakes and hurricanes, to fires and floods and rising sea levels, natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. No region of the country is immune from the impacts and rising costs of disaster damage.

AECOM’s services include sustainable design, planning and engineering to mitigate and prepare for natural disasters as well as disaster-recovery services.

“The National Building Museum has assembled a fascinating and important exhibition,” says Gary Lawrence, chief sustainability officer, AECOM. “Designing for Disaster calls attention to the ever-present risks we face and steps we must take, both in our homes and communities. At AECOM, building resiliency is fundamental to our work, from evaluating risk, to planning mitigation and adaptation strategies, to designing and engineering better infrastructure, to disaster recovery. We’re proud to sponsor this effort to increase awareness, engagement and preparation.”

Visitors to Designing for Disaster can explore new approaches in design and engineering to protect life and property against a range of natural hazards. The exhibition is organized by the destructive forces associated with each of the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Artifacts from past disasters, such as a door marked after Hurricane Katrina, singed opera glasses from the Waldo Canyon wildfire, and stone fragments from the earthquake-damaged National Cathedral, express the destructive power of nature.

Installations include a partially deconstructed FEMA-specified “safe room” that illustrates how it withstands tornado-force winds and flying debris, and a “wall of wind” (modeled on Florida International University’s wind-testing facility) where visitors can test roof shapes against simulated hurricane-force winds.

Case studies explore design and planning schemes, public policies and new forecasting technologies. The scale is varied, from engineering advancements and seismic retrofits to hands-on lessons, through models, animated drawings and interactive displays that allow visitors to test their disaster preparedness by choosing the best recourse in disaster scenarios.

The exhibition includes images and stories of everyday people who have taken steps to safeguard their homes and families. Visitors are challenged to take similar actions. Links to online resources, an ongoing exhibition blog, and a blog/social media campaign called #MitigationNation help visitors get started.

About the National Building Museum
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 Follow us on Twitter: @BuildingMuseum and Facebook:

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