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Monument's reopening shows need to design for future disasters

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Albany/HV: Monument's reopening shows need to design for future disasters
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The fully restored Washington Monument re-opened to the public Monday after workers repaired more than 150 cracks and other damage it sustained in a 2011 earthquake and comes as a new exhibit in Washington focuses on rebuilding for natural disasters. Washington reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report.

WASHINGTON -- One of the country’s most recognizable landmarks - the Washington Monument - opened to the public Monday for the first time in nearly three years. The 55-story, stone obelisk was badly damaged in a 2011 earthquake and hurricane.

Across town at the National Building Museum, a new exhibit focuses on new design approaches that protect against natural disasters. It’s called "Designing for Disaster."

"You’re going to find all kinds of design, engineering, building and planning solutions that are out there right now – that not only respond to natural disasters but are really all about planning ahead for the next disaster," said National Building Museum Communications Director Brett Rodgers.

Solutions include restoring oyster reefs to protect against the type of storm surges brought by Hurricane Sand and a FEMA-approved safe room. It’s a potential life-saver in a violent storm.

"It’s built with concrete masonry unit walls. It’s fully grouted with reinforcing steel bars. We also have steel as specified here in the ceiling and a special tornado resistant door," said National Building Museum Curator Chrysanthe Broikos.

Visitors can also try out a miniature "wall of wind," based on a huge, wind testing facility in Florida. It allows visitors to test different roof shapes against simulated hurricane-force winds.

"What we have here is a hurricane simulator that can actually simulate Category 5 winds. What we're able to do is show you the difference between a hipped roof and straight-gable roof, and you can actually see the difference," Broikos said.

The curator says the exhibit is based on two questions: How we should build and where.

"We're rethinking what it means to be safe. We're rethinking how much risk we're willing to take. I think that's a healthy thing. We should be doing that," Broikos said.

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