Category Archives: Haiti


Do what you can with what you have where you are.

“Do what you can with what you have where you are.”   Theodore Roosevelt


Considering recent questions on the purpose of project “Architect Unseen,” I respond with this.  All that remains undone is overwhelming and the path, at times, seems insurmountable.   However, if one can break down a big idea into manageable projects, it is possible.

The project launch is a focus on fundraising for a volunteer trip to El Salvador.  The purpose of this trip is to learn firsthand from a successful recovery program in a country similar to Haiti in climate and geography.  With hopes to bring home an understanding of what it takes to empower people with the knowledge to help themselves, I hope to apply this locally and globally – especially in Haiti.

My advice, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

 Following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, I asked – “What can I do to help?”  Closely connected to Key West, I traveled south to help pick up garbage from the shorelines.  Neither scientist nor marine biologist, the feeling of helplessness was overwhelming.  On returning home, I asked the question a little differently, “What can I do as an architect to help?”  I searched for architecture volunteer programs and sent a few emails.  The next day, Rachel Minnery, co-founder of Architects Without Borders Seattle, asks if I would like to talk with her about an upcoming Haiti relief trip. Three weeks later, I am on an airplane to Miami to meet 11 architects and engineers and travel on to Petit Goave, Haiti.

It was the beginning of this journey and a fitting introduction to this project, Architect Unseen.

Visiting and working with people from other cultures provides an opportunity to learn more about one’s own.  Now certified as a disaster assistance – safety assessment program trainer, it is time to start training.  Exposed to the worst case situation in Haiti, it is time to find a way to prevent it.   With your help, project Architect Unseen will continue to evolve and find ways to help people.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.



Keeping it global…. A student’s experience in Honduras

Just one week ago, I met with the UW Milwaukee SARUP (School of Architecture and Urban Planning) students to talk about the architect’s role in disaster assistance.  They asked some very good questions,  one of which was, “Does it make sense for an architect to travel to a foreign country and physically build homes:  shovel dirt, carry rocks, stack masonry, pound nails, etc.?”   My answer, with full conviction, was, “Absolutely!”   Early on, I struggled greatly with this idea.  Someone asked, “Is it making best use of your skills?”  What better way to become a better architect than to build it with my own hands.

Immediately following my “Architect Unseen” presentation at last week’s SARUP event, Zach walked up to tell me about his volunteer experience building structures for families in Honduras.  It was refreshing to hear his stories and I’d asked to see the photos from his work.  He responded with a very touching letter and I’d asked if I could share it on my blog.  Fortunately, he agreed.

Thank you Zach because you have inspired me.  I am now more sure than ever that El Salvador is the right thing to do! 



 Below are Zach’s letter and the link to his photos.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


Hello Ms. Glaeser,

This is Zach Pate who talked to you about my excursions in Honduras at your speech in Milwaukee on Monday night. I have to say I’m so glad we had a person talk about the subject of architecture and poverty in third-world countries, it was a very riveting speech and is something some of us Americans just don’t think about that much.

Anyways, this url is a shutterfly website that shows what our group did in Tegucigalpa.  Now I’ll warn you this is a photo pool, so it has about 1,000 pictures from the trip so obviously you don’t have to see every single one but I thought if you were interested you could check this website out. We had a total of about 14 members this last year and also stayed with a Honduran family. I plan on possibly going back on this mission’s trip either this summer or the following. However if you would ever be interested in joining us for one of our trips, I’m sure you would be an asset to the mission’s team, just a random idea to throw out there. My church that sponsors this trip is the CrossPoint Assembly of God in Portage, just north of Madison. I know this is plenty of random ideas to be throwing your way, but again its just an idea. Anyways thanks again, it was a pleasure meeting you.

Zach Pate

AIAS Events Committee



Climate…. politics & weather


Whether or not you believe in global warming or that weather changes are part of the natural cycle, or both – one cannot argue that there is an increase in both number and intensity of global natural disasters.  With this increase in disruption, there is need for assistance.  What is the architect’s role and how is it changing?

On this election day, all are waiting in anticipation.   How will the elected president face this climate challenge?  Hurricane Sandy was a global event – affecting not just the United State’s east coast, but also Cuba, Haiti – poor Haiti, and other surrounding areas. What is the role of architects in this disaster?


Using a similar approach to what we did in Haiti.  Where they can, AIA members are already responding to Hurricane Sandy. In Rhode Island, architects, engineers, and other design professionals from the AIA Rhode Island Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force (AEERTF) are working with the state’s Emergency Management Agency to provide building safety assessments in hard hit communities along the coast.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the AIAS (American Institute of Architects Student) group at UW Milwaukee, SARUP (School of Architecture and Urban Planning) for graciously hosting last evening’s event and inviting me to talk with you.  Melissa, Nathan, and Caroline – you we fabulous hosts.  It was such a pleasure to be back at UWM and working with students.  Thank you for all your energy and support.

The process of preparing for this presentation reaffirmed my mission to continue forward with disaster assistance locally- as the WI AIA State Disaster Response Coordinator role and globally – in El Salvador and as the need arises elsewhere.

5 thank yous

This is the way that I start each day.  It reaffirms the things that are good, forcing me to focus on the positive.  Some days it is easy and some days it is basic as, “I am thankful for the coffee that is brewing while I do my thank yous.” Seriously.  During a  difficult period, a dear friend gave me the tools I needed, this was one of them.  Try it. Studies have proven the positive affects of meditation.

At this moment, I am thankful to be “almost” done with my presentation for the University of Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning – AIAS monthly meeting. Last time I presented in room SARUP 110, I was presenting my masters thesis.  12 years later, I’ll be sharing the stories about Haiti, disaster assistance, and El Salvador.

Thank you for yesterday’s long run.  It provided the time and clarity to think through a strategy for tomorrow’s AIAS discussion.


Restoring Haiti

(Click link below to watch video)

2Now playingPecha Kucha – Restoring Haiti by HTHHMADISON 

This was my first Pecha Kucha style presentation, trust me……it is a lot harder than it looks.

It was an honor to be invited by our local High Tech Happy Hour to share my personal story about surveying post earthquake buildings with Architects Without Borders in Haiti – 2010. The largest factor found in building failure was poor construction techniques, thus I strongly believe that education is the key to saving lives and rebuilding communities.