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Designing an Upside-Down, Hurricane-Proof Hospital for New Orleans

Project Legacy Rendering
Project Legacy RenderingCourtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

When a hurricane hits land, hospitals are some of the most vulnerable structures. A power outage can send entire medical facilities into critical condition, as patients who depend on machines are placed at risk and incoming patients are turned away at the door. The result can be deadly.

No other U.S. city understands the consequences better than New Orleans. In a Louisiana government report, researchers found that at least 70 hospital patients died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Another 57 bodies were recovered from hospitals in the days following the hurricane, indicating that their storm-related deaths occurred inside hospitals. Seven of the city’s 16 hospitals were out of commission for more than two years, and some were deemed beyond repair.