This site uses cookiesMore Information.

CBS News Highlights HOK in Story on Hurricane-Resilient Architecture

The HOK-designed Luminary Hotel in Fort Myers, Florida, sustained minimal damage during Hurricane Ian. HOK’s Jonathan Rae and Amir Aghajani explain why.

In recognition of the start of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, CBS News looked at how architecture can minimize damage and save lives during what is expected to be the region’s most active storm season ever.

The segment began with a visit to the Luminary Hotel in Fort Myers, where CBS reporter Manuel Bojorquez met with HOK’s Jonathan Rae and Amir Aghajani. In September 2022, Hurricane Ian killed 150 people and caused more than $112 billion in damage along the Gulf Coast. Despite 150 mph winds and a catastrophic storm surge, Luminary Hotel sustained only superficial damage to its signage.

The hotel’s resilient design includes locating its first floor nine feet above ground level, which prevented flood waters from entering the building. Backup generators located 15 feet above ground level allowed the hotel to maintain power during the storm and serve as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ command center for Fort Myers’ recovery.

“The building is purposely straightforward,” explained Rae, an architect and senior principal in HOK’s Tampa studio. “There are no complicated geometries, no alcoves, no recesses. No places for wind forces to build and create additional stresses on the building.”

The building also has a slight bend in its massing that creates additional strength and stability. Aghajani, a senior project engineer in HOK’s Houston studio, demonstrated how an ordinary sheet of paper cannot stand upright. But when the paper is creased, it gains rigidity. “With that simple bend, the paper is able to stand up without the need for any new material,” he explained.

Aghajani sees resilient design as key to future-proofing buildings, particularly in regions prone to violent storms. “I think of it as invest now or pay later. You’re creating value.”

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now