Unnatural Disaster: Infrastructure in Puerto Rico before, during, and after Hurricane Maria
In conversation with Hiba Bou Akar and Monxo López.
November 9, 2018
Ivis Garcia Zambrana, The University of Utah
Marcelo López-Dinardi (’13 MSCCP), Texas A&M University
Mark Martin Bras, Vieques Conservation & Historical Trust
Andrés Mignucci, University of Puerto Rico
Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Columbia University
Ingrid Olivo, GIZ Sustainable Intermediate Cities Program
In January of 2018, four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced a plan to privatize the US territory’s publicly owned power utility (PREPA). This action—exposing infrastructure at the convergence of colonialism, finance, and 150 mile-per-hour winds—came as no surprise to those who have been paying attention. Nonetheless, its implications are sure to be felt well beyond the thousands of residents who remained without power months after Hurricane Maria made landfall.
Rosselló’s more recent push to commence privatization of the island’s public school system emphatically echoes and underscores these facts. While many fields are involved in addressing the current crisis on the island, we believe a more focused, historically informed conversation on the roles of architecture, planning, and preservation in both the production and management of these ever-more-frequent emergencies—especially as they pertain to infrastructure—is warranted.