From wild fires and hurricanes to flooding and rising sea levels, natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. No region of the country is immune from the impacts and rising costs of disaster damage. In light of this stark reality, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has prepared a multimedia exhibition called “Designing for Disaster.” The exhibition is intended as a call to action for citizen preparedness — from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school kids. The exhibition explores strategies local leaders are currently pursuing to reduce their risks and build more disaster-resilient communities. The exhibition opened May 11, 2014 and will remain on view through August 2, 2015.

Visitors to Designing for Disaster will explore new approaches in design and engineering to protect life and property against a range of natural hazards. The exhibition will be organized by the destructive forces associated with each of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. Artifacts from past disasters, such as a door marked after Hurricane Katrina and stone fragments from the earthquake-damaged National Cathedral, help to document the destructive power of nature.

Although frequently overlooked in presentations focused on whole buildings, the exhibition at the National Building Museum places roofing center stage with a hands-on look at what can happen when roofs are exposed to hurricane-force winds. Modeled on the “Wall of Wind” developed by Florida International University, a special interactive exhibit invites visitors to test various roof shapes against simulated hurricane-force winds to see which shape performs best. Check out the video produced by the National Building Museum. 

As a longtime roofing researcher and industry advocate, it is especially gratifying to see a project featured that the roofing industry itself helped to build and grow. In 2007, the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress approved $100,000 in funding for the development of the full-scale Wall of Wind test facility by the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) of Florida International University. The end result is a 12-fan Wall of Wind that is the first-of-its-kind facility capable of performing controlled and repeatable testing to replicate up to Category 5 hurricane winds accompanied by wind-driven rain and flying debris. Research will allow 12-fan Wall-of-Wind-based testing that can adhere transformative advancement in hurricane damage mitigation techniques and additional building code enhancements.

 The National Building Museum is just a few blocks off the National Mall at 410 F Street, NW, and is conveniently located close to several Metro stations. So, if business or vacation plans take you or your family to Washington over the next year, I would encourage you see this exciting exhibit and learn how the roofing industry is helping support resilience to protect our communities from disaster. For more information about the exhibit, please visit the National Building Museum website at  

Commercial Roofing Boot Camp: Next Course Scheduled for Fall 2014

Dr. Hoff will begin teaching his next Commercial Roofing Boot Camp on Oct. 6, 2014. Class size for the 10-week online course will be limited to 50 participants. For more information about registration and the complete course syllabus, please visit