Experts will discuss affordable housing for flood-prone areas April 21-22 at ISU

AMES, Iowa - Experts in affordable housing, disaster resilience and sustainable design will join local housing and planning officials and nonprofit and for-profit housing developers for "The Symposium on Affordable Housing and Disaster Resilience," April 21-22, at Iowa State University. They will discuss strategies for the continuing development of sustainable neighborhoods and affordable housing in flood-affected areas of Cedar Rapids.

The symposium will be all day Thursday, April 21, and Friday morning, April 22, at the Environmental Health and Safety Services Building Learning Center, on the north side of campus.

Although the focus is on Cedar Rapids, strategies discussed will be of interest to those concerned with affordable housing in flood-affected neighborhoods in other towns. Two sessions are free and open to the public on Thursday: the project presentation and preliminary discussion from 9 to 11 a.m., and discussion of next steps for Cedar Rapids, 1 to 5 p.m.

Nadia Anderson

"I hope that this event will generate discussion about how design can be an active force in making flood-impacted communities like Cedar Rapids more sustainable and more disaster resilient on multiple levels," said symposium organizer Nadia Anderson, ISU assistant professor of architecture and extension architecture and community design specialist. "Valuing so-called natural and human systems equally and finding ways for them to work together is a critical step in this process."

Discussion will include how the control of natural systems-such as the channeling of the Cedar River and development of its natural flood plain-has resulted in neighborhoods that continue to be vulnerable to disasters like flooding, despite structural interventions like floodwalls and levees. It will also examine how environmental strategies, in concert with natural systems, can reduce this vulnerability and empower residents of affordable housing.

The symposium will center on Anderson's case study of Cedar Rapids, where record flooding of the Cedar River in 2008 devastated a significant portion of the city's affordable housing and associated neighborhoods. The study builds on the work of Anderson's students, who developed energy-efficient modular housing prototypes for the Oak Hill Jackson neighborhood. Subsequent studios (led by design faculty Clare Cardinal-Pett, Peter Goché, and Ulrike Passe, architecture; and Mira Engler, landscape architecture), together with the City of Cedar Rapids' work, also provided invaluable resources for this study.

Work from these studios, as well as analytical maps prepared by Anderson and her research assistants, will be exhibited as part of the symposium.

Nationally renowned affordable housing and sustainable design experts participating in the event include Kathleen Dorgan, principal of Dorgan Architecture & Planning, Storrs, Conn.; Judith Kinnard, Harvey-Wadsworth chair and professor at the Tulane School of Architecture; David Perkes, associate professor of architecture at Mississippi State University and founding director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio; and Jeff Carney, research professor, College of Art and Design, Louisiana State University and director of the Coastal Sustainability Studio.

The event is co-sponsored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the National Endowment for the Arts, ISU's College of Design and Council on Sustainability.

Parking is available in the general staff lot off Wanda Daley Drive, south of the Environmental Health and Safety Services Building. Visitor parking permits are available for this event at the front desk in the EHSSB. For questions and to RSVP if attending, contact Anderson at 515-294-0339,