As an urban designer for NYC in the mid-2000s, Thaddeus Pawlowski was concerned by regulations and building practices that inhibited building for greater resilience, as well as by the underdeveloped links among design, economics and policy. Even before Hurricane Sandy, he had begun to anticipate and plan for the increased threat of coastal storms and rising sea levels. His knowledge of emergency operations, zoning and urban design uniquely situated him to be an architect of the city’s recovery as planning advisor in the NYC Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery Operations.
Pawlowski initiated the 2008 “What if New York City…” design competition that is credited with shifting the storm response focus from evacuation and shelter to adaptation to predictable threats. He collaborated on a playbook for deploying post-disaster temporary housing in a way that facilitated consensus-based comprehensive planning. Months before Hurricane Sandy he convened 80 respected architects to develop urban design principles for the flood zone and specific zoning changes for greater resilience, recommendations that were adopted after the storm. Working with Architecture for Humanity and Enterprise Community Partners Pawlowski organized The Sandy Design Help Desk, which is offering property owners in flood zones personalized guidance in understanding their resilience options.
During his Loeb year, Pawlowski will document the lessons he learned from Hurricane Sandy, research models from other cities and craft recommendations for improvement, with particular attention to more effective information management strategies.