Designing for Disaster Exhibition highlights Alabama as the only state requiring schools to have storm shelters
Washington, D.C. — From earthquakes and hurricanes, to flooding 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. In light of this stark reality, the National Building Museum (NBM) opened the 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. The exhibition explores strategies local leaders are currently pursuing to reduce their risks and build more disaster-resilient communities.
A portion of the exhibition focusing on state building codes recognizes Alabama as the only state to require tornado safe rooms in new schools and features Montgomery, Ala.’s brand new Park Crossing High School to demonstrate how these storm shelters are being integrated.
Designed by architects from Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc. (GMC), Park Crossing High boasts seven safe rooms within its multi-building, 165,390 square-foot campus. The storm-safe areas are integrated into classrooms and music/band rehearsal spaces throughout the school, which is safer than one large space and ensures everyone can reach a safe area in the shortest amount of time.
The rooms span two stories and are enclosed by rebar-reinforced concrete walls designed to meet the state-mandated Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters (ICC 500-2008). Heavy, steel shutters within the classrooms can be locked during severe weather events to keep debris and broken glass from flying inward, but also function as bulletin boards during regular class days. Altogether, Park Crossing has enough safe areas to protect 1,200 people from 250-mph winds.
GMC architects also designed Central High School of Clay County and Selma Public High School, the first schools in Alabama built to comply with the state-mandated ICC-500 Storm Shelter Standards that went into effect in July 2010.