Help Puerto Rico flag

Carl Elefante, the 94th President of the AIA, issued this year’s citations to people and organizations that went above and beyond to contribute to the architecture profession and/or their community. Presidential Citations are a privilege of the AIA President and are expressions of the President’s viewpoint, unlike design awards and other AIA recognitions that represent more formalized jury selection processes.

“During my visit to Puerto Rico, I spent time with Jonathan, Jose Marchand, Jonathan’s mother, and their leadership team, and visited a community center in Caño Martin Pena where I saw firsthand the positive impact of their efforts after Hurricane Maria,” says Elefante. “I also got to see the importance of Jonathan’s strategic entrepreneurism, linking the San Juan and New York offices. In my view, the simple gesture of issuing a Presidential Citation in recognition of Jonathan’s leadership was the least I could do to acknowledge the importance of his work where it was needed the most.”

Resilient Power Puerto Rico has had a very successful year, working with local electrical engineers and Tesla-trained installers to provide relief to underserved communities. Using solar panels, RPPR has built infrastructure for long-term power resiliency by creating redundancy in the power system to provide security and reliability against future natural disasters or failures of the electrical system. Across the island, 33 micro grids have been installed to help power densely populated areas of San Juan, with 22 planned for the near future. The solar micro grids incorporate lithium batteries, creating a long-lasting solution to Puerto Rico’s power outage problem. Their newest installation in Vieques, one of the islands of Puerto Rico devastated most by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, is part of their community energy needs program, and is the first of eight sites being developed in partnership with Para La Naturaleza. In addition, as part of a Renewable Energy Microgrids Program, RPPR has created The Puerto Rico Energy Toolkit, currently in live beta testing. Co-authored by the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Toolkit is a comprehensive and interactive open database focused on supporting the growth of renewable energy in Puerto Rico and aims to strengthen collaborator’s capacities to implement renewable microgrids across the Island’s most impacted communities, maximizing social impact investments.

“As an architect, the most meaningful way to help the people of Puerto Rico, and thus the world, get to a better place is through benevolent altruism,” said Marvel.  “The AIA’s recognition of this is truly special.”

In addition, Marvel Architects is working on prototypes for a community of resilient homes that can better weather future storms (see rendering below). With an approximate budget of $120,000, power and potable water are the main focus to assure that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, the systems meet and exceed the recommended period of time to receive aid from first responders.  The design uses solar panels and batteries to keep the essential services of the home running when the grid goes down. A rainwater collection system stores and filters water, while a solar water heater keeps showers warm. With Puerto Rico’s powerful year-round solar energy source and healthy rainwater collection, the prototype is capable of replenishing and sustaining itself for extended periods of time.


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