UF establishes new institute to study resilience of the built environment

Research that helps communities respond to complex environmental challenges by improving the way they plan, design and build the physical environment is the focus of a new institute at the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP). The Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER) is comprised of a new group of faculty who bring expertise from diverse disciplinary backgrounds - including urban design, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, architecture, construction management, anthropology and civil engineering - to establish connections with policymakers, researchers and practitioners across the university, the state of Florida and the world.

“Our vision is for FIBER to become a focal point for research into how design, construction and planning can make our communities and cities safer through enhanced resilience of the built environment,” said DCP Dean Chimay Anumba. “It will function as a critical knowledge hub for resilience research and practice, working alongside communities, government agencies, companies, non-governmental organizations and other institutions to build multi-scale strength and wellbeing in Florida and beyond.”

FIBER will be officially launched at an invitation-only event on campus March 20, but the group is actually located off-campus. Housed in the Catalyst Building, east of campus and south of downtown, the group is sharing space with UF’s Director of Collaborative Initiatives, City of Gainesville planners (smart cities group), and a drone manufacturer. The off-campus location is intended to help bridge university research with real-world applications in the city of Gainesville, and elsewhere.

“Because Florida, like many regions around the globe, is facing challenges from climate change, sea-level rise, development pressure and other factors, this institute will seek opportunities for innovative, resilient responses,” said FIBER Director David Hulse, a landscape architect and environmental designer with a track record of using spatial decision support systems to evaluate alternative land and water use futures. “Through collaborative research, synthesis and design at the interface of built environment and ecological systems, FIBER is positioned to respond to the complex threats that many regions around the world are facing.”

The six core FIBER faculty are individually affiliated with various disciplines within the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning, a college uniquely equipped to develop resilience-based processes in a world of increasing risks. DCP houses critical disciplines that impact the planning, design, construction, and sustainability of built and natural environments.

More broadly, resilience expertise at the University of Florida spans ecological, economic, organizational, psychological, educational, sociological and engineering approaches. FIBER is seeking to pool and synergize this knowledge, at the intersection of research, practice and lived experience. “FIBER works to bring the UF community together around shared values and visions of resilience towards the common good,” added Hulse.

To learn more, visit https://dcp.ufl.edu/fiber/.

Margot Winick March 18, 2019