Photo courtesy of Miyamoto International

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was an engineering disaster as well as a natural disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed when under-engineered buildings fell during the 7.0-magnitude temblor. The capitol of Port-au-Prince appeared to be destroyed. In fact, there was talk of relocating the city or bulldozing large swaths of it for new construction. However, assessments found many homes could be saved. The challenge was to ensure the rebuilding achieved safer standards in a country whose builders have little experience with seismic-resistant construction.

Miyamoto International teamed with the Pan American Development Foundation and Haiti's Ministry of Public Works to train masons and engineers in confined masonry construction techniques and then piloted a program to begin repairing houses damaged by the quake. Initially a 500-house demonstration, repairs were so successful, popular and cost-effective—at $2,000 per structure—that Miyamoto went on to repair more than 10,000 houses in Port-au-Prince's poorest neighborhoods as well as near the epicenter, in Leogane. There were many challenges, including overcoming pre-quake substandard building practices; the need for rapid assessments in hazardous, extreme conditions; the need to train workers and build trust with homeowners; labor disputes; and issues with materials quality, supply and security.

In the end, 35 engineers learned quality assurance and inspection of seismically improved concrete-block wall construction, and more than 600 masons were trained. Workers also learned safer work practices, as they were required to wear hardhats and protective gloves at all times. Despite 10,000 project locations, no job-site accidents were recorded.

Project Team: Miyamoto International, the Pan American Development Foundation, Haiti's Ministry of Public Works, and the contractors and people of Haiti

Owner: Individual homeowners

General Contractor: Miyamoto International

Engineer: Miyamoto International