Building Restoration After Catastrophe
The Atlantic Cities
website ran photos and news this week about the earthquake in Italy. This strikes a chord with us in Central Texas. No, we don't have priceless renaissance buildings here, but we continue to grapple with major events that challenge us to re-examine our building processes and consider key issues of building restoration.
These sobering photos remind us to consider all aspects of construction. First and foremost are the life-safety issues. Are there lessons to be learned to reduce the chance of injury or death in a catastrophe? But the bigger questions have to do with the recovery. What can be done to help structures withstand a disaster? How can communities most efficiently re-build in the aftermath?
Reconstructing buildings is only part of the recovery. How do residents regain their sense of security? Will the changes after the disaster be permanent? Will things ever feel normal again? Are there ways to preserve history or keep connections to the past?
Our experience with First Baptist Church in Dripping Springs illustrates the importance of considering all aspects of recovery. In the wake of a tragic fire that destroyed their sanctuary, the congregation was determined to rebuild. With our involvement, they considered their long-term needs and opportunities.
The church chose to do more than just replace what was lost. They challenged themselves to build for the future. Their new church is bigger, better and more beautiful than ever before. And the congregation is thriving.
The historic bell is one of the few items salvaged from the fire. It now hangs prominently from the soaring new steeple. The bell tower never was as high and prominent, but proved to be a wonderful way of preserving and improving on the past.