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Haiti Orphanage Generates Resilient Construction Model

William Jefferson Clinton Children's Center
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

“This green building is an amazing opportunity for Haiti. It’s a legacy we’re going to be leaving for the next generation.”

Gina Duncan
Executive Director, Fondation Enfant Jesus

A new orphanage and children’s center in Port-au-Prince will create a culturally relevant model of sustainable construction that can be replicated throughout the region.

Targeting LEED Platinum certification, the 6,000-sq.-ft., two-building orphanage will replace a facility destroyed by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010.

The team seeks to achieve net zero water and waste on the project, integrating effective passive design strategies and efficient building systems so the buildings serve as a net positive energy source.

Building systems will provide independence from the city’s unreliable power grid, harnessing excess energy to power streetlights and public charging stations on the street.

To ensure a safe water supply, the engineering team designed a closed-loop system that collects, treats and stores water on-site. A water collection system on the roof will funnel water into an underground cistern. Gray and black water will be fed into a bioreactor, which will filter and clean it for reuse in landscaping.

A priority was to create a facility that could withstand future earthquakes. The design uses a lightweight infill wall system composed of locally sustaining materials that adapt to the redundant and replicable concrete moment frame structure. The design provides a ground-level “safe zone” where occupants can gather in the event of an earthquake.

While concrete is a common construction material in Haiti, local building techniques frequently would not meet code requirements in other parts of the world. The design team plans to use on-site workshops and design manuals to educate workers on the proper placement of rebar and promote an understanding of safe, appropriate construction techniques that reduce seismic risk.

“Project Haiti would not succeed without HOK’s generous pro-bono support as project architect, and we are so very grateful for their ongoing dedication, expertise and passion for this project,” said Roger Limoges, USGBC vice president of organizational development and William Jefferson Clinton Children’s Center lead. “HOK has already spent countless hours ensuring that Project Haiti will be an innovative, sustainable, LEED-certified example of hope for this region. With this most recent generous contribution of $50,000, they once again take us a step closer to completing this amazing project.”


LEED Platinum anticipated


6,000 sq. ft. / 560 sq. m.


Facility Programming
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Lighting Design
Master Planning
Structural Engineering


9 January 2014
“How Reverse Engineering Can Spur Design Innovation”
Fast Co.Exist 

6 February 2013
“Project Haiti’s Seeds of Hope”

29 January 2013
“Urban Infrastructure: What Would Nature Do?”

4 January 2013
“Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy?”
The New York Times

29 March 2012
“Safe Harbor”
Architectural Record

25 January 2012
“HOK Partners with USGBC on Design of Haiti Children’s Center”
Building Design + Construction