Disaster Response Network is an architectural proposal to convert thirty-two decommissioned Cold War-era ammunition storage depots across the United States into a geographically distributed network of temporary intensive care units available to COVID-19 patients and the victims of future outbreaks. The defunct military infrastructure sites targeted in the proposal collectively contain over 20,000 bunkers. If fully implemented, the project will increase the number of intensive care units in US medical facilities by a factor of four, alleviating strain placed on the system by the current pandemic.

This thesis responds to the current COVID-19 pandemic by restoring obsolete infrastructure, streamlining the country’s disaster response capabilities and enabling more effective response to future concerns.

The architectural design of the project limits the spread of the disease while ensuring the safety of patients, medical personnel and visitors through carefully planned circulation routes. Visitors interact with patients through protective barriers that allow acoustic and visual connection while blocking virus transmission, addressing issues of loneliness and social isolation that present challenges during illness and hamper recovery. In the future, the sites targeted by the project will be used as emergency command centres capable of housing stockpiles of medical supplies and emergency shelters, ensuring preparedness for future outbreaks and other disasters.    

This thesis is a reflection on current mitigation efforts for both this crisis and others, trying to address the United States’ disaster response solutions holistically. By restoring obsolete infrastructure, streamlining the country’s disaster response capabilities, and enabling a more effective response to future concerns, this project helps prepare the U.S. for inevitable future crises in a more humane, sustainable manner.

Joe Dahmen [CHAIR]
James Huemoeller
David Zielnicki