Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)

Legacy Department

Architecture

Advisor

Allison, David

Committee Member

Hecker , Doug

Committee Member

Hewitt , Robert

Committee Member

Sherrill , Windsor

Abstract

Bioterrorism, the use of biological and chemical agents for terrorist purposes, is one of the most potentially significant health and security threats currently facing the United States. Healthcare facilities as isolated entities are alone unable to provide sufficient, adaptable emergency response options during a bioterrorist attack--an unpredictable, low probability, high consequence event. Bioterrorism response must be systemic, distributed, flexible, and responsive for a wide range of event incidents, scenarios and contexts. A significant problem yet to be adequately addressed is the mitigation of the walking well--those who are not sick or injured but have the potential to inundate any designated response setting.
Architectural interventions alone are limited in their ability to provide an appropriate response to an act of bioterrorism. An analogy to the human immune system and how it operates in the body to overcome pathogens will be used to articulate a systematic bioterrorism response and a series of architectural interventions for dealing with the walking well. Similar to our immune system, a response network (or system) should be created that operates throughout high risk urban contexts and takes advantage of existing architectural settings in order to deploy as needed and where needed in response to a bioterrorist attack. An antibody response to bioterrorism must be able to adapt to meeting the needs of various scenarios and contexts in which an incident might occur. Drawing on this biological metaphor, any proposed architectural interventions must include latent capabilities while having the ability to be activated in place and scalable in order to accommodate the multiple potential threats and the many variables inherent with bioterrorism.
The proposal for an architectural response to bioterrorism is situated in Washington, D.C., identified as the highest potential target city in the United States for acts of bioterrorism. Appropriate latent resources capable of acting as a part of the response network throughout the D.C. urban context will be identified and their potential activation will be explored through two example scenarios, which will be used to illustrate the proposed model for systematic response. The most architecturally significant locations for (activated) small scale interjections will be designed to meet the first response needs of the general population who would be moving about in the city during the detection of an event. These sites and features will allow for differing degrees of self-diagnosis during and following an event as well as provide general day to day and event related public health information. The proposed architectural interjections will be designed to respond to the predicted fear and panic exhibited by the walking well during a bioterrorist attack, and minimize their potential for overwhelming hospitals and other healthcare settings in the target region.

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