HKS and AIA Publish Resilience Design Toolkit

Billion-dollar disasters are becoming more frequent, threatening the health, infrastructure and social, financial and environmental well-being of communities worldwide.

In response to these pressing issues, global design firm HKS and the American Institute of Architects announce the publication of the Resilience Design Toolkit. HKS and AIA created this new resource to help architects anticipate hazards that may arise throughout a building’s life and provide features to reduce risk and vulnerability.

Rand Ekman, Chief Sustainability Officer and a Partner at HKS, said the firm is gratified “to help advance the industry in partnership with the AIA” through this publication.

The Resilience Design Toolkit is a guide to designing for resilience, or what architect Sammy Shams, a Sustainable Design Professional at HKS and one of the authors of the Toolkit, described as the capacity to “adapt, withstand and bounce back faster” after a catastrophe.

“In the face of uncertainty and the imperative for future-proofing, architects encounter significant hurdles. Yet, armed with the Resilience Design Toolkit, we hold the potential to revolutionize resilience, making it accessible and fair. By leveraging this toolkit, architects can serve as catalysts, fostering the development of remarkable, resilient and sustainable communities,” said Luz Toro, AIA Manager, Resilience & Climate Adaptation.

The Resilience Design Toolkit originated from the work of a taskforce HKS assembled in 2019 to better understand the effects of sea level rise on coastal projects. This led to subsequent research the firm conducted in 2021 and 2022 to explore resilience design and develop a tool to help architects on all types of projects assess potential hazards objectively and mitigate the effects of these hazards through design.

The Toolkit details five steps for integrating resilience thinking into a project, beginning with architects’ initial interactions with client and community stakeholders and continuing through post-occupancy. These steps are intended to serve as a framework for evaluating and implementing resilience design strategies.

The Toolkit also provides an overview of resilience design; a glossary of relevant terms and acronyms; and descriptions of other tools, processes, ratings and certifications that make up the resilience landscape.

In addition to the Resilience Design Toolkit, HKS is announcing a new service the firm is offering to advise clients in making resilience design decisions.

“We want to help our clients position their real estate assets to be successful for years,” said Ekman. “The underlying purpose of doing this kind of work is to help our communities and help our clients.”