Boston Strong

Renovate for Recovery and the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance are still going strong: 8 renovations underway, over 70 architect and design volunteers, dozens of engineers, occupational therapists, builders and contractors, vendors and suppliers….  an extraordinary effort, and we’ve really just begun.  The CDRC is honored to continue to work behind-the-scenes to help organize and support the design effort.  Thank you survivors for inviting us into your homes, thank you volunteers and donors for making this happen.

Are you a survivor in need of home modifications?  The program is still accepting applications.

Do you have expertise to share?  Products or materials to offer?  We need you!

Thank you Hallie Busta and Architect Magazine for helping spread the story.

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Architects Rally with Boston

A team of building professionals joined the state’s effort to bring accessible design into the homes of those injured in last year’s attack at the Boston Marathon.


Marathon Bombing Survivor’s Home Outfitted for Recovery

“Life with a prosthetic leg is one thing.  LIfe with a prosthetic leg when you’re on the third floor of a walk-up is another”

— Marathon survivor Karen Rand

WGBH radio (and Ask This Old House) covered the story of this Marathon survivor’s renovation — one of eight Renovate for Recovery projects currently underway.  A shout out and thank you to volunteer architect Michael McHugh and the whole Somerville project team!

Click here for the story.

Karen Rand greets the hosts of Ask This Old House at her Somerville home.

Karen Rand greets the hosts of Ask This Old House at her Somerville home.

Architects Team with Engineers, Builders, Suppliers, and Vendors to Provide Free Home Renovations to Marathon Survivors

The CDRC is working behind-the-scenes to support Renovate for Recovery (a committee of the BSA) and the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance (a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Public Safety).  The CDRC is serving as Architect of Record for all projects, providing liability insurance to the volunteer designers, helping organize the 90+ architect volunteers, and serving as architect for the pilot project.

The pilot project is profiled in the Boston Globe, including project architect and CDRC executive director, Gretchen.

Watch the video here.


Marathon victims get help making homes accessible
by Eric Moskowitz, republished from the Boston Globe / July 22, 2013

Between Brigham and Women’s and Spaulding Rehab and the Brigham again, Martha Galvis spent 76 days hospitalized after the Boston Marathon attacks, dreaming of home.

And though her life is not what it was before April 15, her home — a tidy split-level in a quiet subdivision in Nashua — is exactly the same. Which poses a problem.

So many of the small things that Martha Galvis and her husband, Alvaro, had never considered about the home where they raised three children are suddenly obstacles: the layout of the shower, the lack of handrails on both sides of the stairs, even the many doorknobs that now strain Martha’s good hand, which tires easily.

Enter the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance, a volunteer network offering free home-accessibility modifications for Marathon victims.

“Right after the bombings it occurred to me that there were going to be survivors who would need work on their homes,” said Public Safety Commissioner Thomas G. Gatzunis, whose department organized scores of volunteer architects, engineers, contractors, trade unions, and inspectors. “The last thing I wanted people to do is pay for something that we can have donated for them.”

The alliance’s first home visit — to plan renovations for the Galvis home — occurred over the border in Nashua, with cooperation from Granite State officials. It underscored the way the Marathon bombings galvanized an entire region.

Gatzunis said everyone he contacted — the electrical workers and the plumbers union, the lumber retailers and the elevator installers — said the same thing: “How can we help?”

Others found him, like the Boston Society of Architects’ “Renovate for Recovery,” which took shape in the aftermath of the bombings to offer free renovation design for Marathon victims.

Alvaro and Martha Galvis observed a contractor and architect evaluate a bathroom in their Nashua, N.H., home. The remodeling help for bombing victims comes at no cost.

Within two months they had established a network of expert volunteers, pledges from product and material suppliers, a formalized application process for victims, and a chain of command to put teams together and assign them to projects. They secured $200,000 from the Legislature in case some specialty items could not be obtained through donations.

What they did not have were victims. Because of health-care privacy laws, the alliance could not reach out directly to anyone injured at the Marathon — including the 16 who lost legs and three dozen additional victims who spent at least a week in a hospital.

Only a few applications have come in so far, including the one from the Galvises, who learned about the alliance when one of their daughters discovered it online. (The program offers its services confidentially, but the Galvises agreed to include the Globe in the alliance’s home visit, to help spread the word to other victims.)

Though the Galvises applied only for a new shower — barrier-free, with grab bars — their project team asked for a full tour, to identify other parts of the home that might pose problems.

The idea, said architect Gretchen Schneider Rabinkin was to, as much as possible, make it so “you can live in the house as you did before.”

The Galvises spoke softly. “Right now I feel good to be home, but it’s hard, so hard,” said Martha, a 60-year-old who has been forced to give up her job as a preschool assistant teacher. “We are lucky to be alive, that’s the major thing.”

Both suffered shrapnel wounds in their legs. Martha’s wounds included severed nerves, requiring her to learn to walk again, and shattered bones in her fingers, one of which was amputated.

They watched from the hall as Schneider Rabinkin, another architect, and a home builder toured the house with Martha’s occupational therapist, Kristen Malinko.

In the bathroom, Malinko asked if they might also get a comfort-height toilet and a light over the shower, asking tentatively, unaccustomed to free renovations for her therapy patients.

No problem, said Scot Pratt, of Granite Rock Construction. “If we can put a man on the moon, we can do that,” he said. The same was true for the low drawers in the 1980s vanity that were now hard for the Galvises to open. Pratt promised to replace that — “and we’ll put a granite countertop on it. They don’t know it yet at the granite place, but we will.”

Within two hours, they had a plan to swap out 13 internal doorknobs with lever handles, rebuild the front steps — rickety and not broad enough for a walker — and replace a storm door that has a balky push-button handle.

“It’s a whole new set of needs,” marveled Al Galvis, 62. “Little details that we didn’t think of. Wow.”

“Easy,” said Pratt, as the team promised to draw up documents and finish the work — quickly, in a month — without a bill for the Galvises. “We can do this in our sleep.”

See the original article — including video — on

Renovate for Recovery

Renovate for Recovery

The CDRC is working behind-the-scenes to organize Renovate for Recovery — the architects’ contribution to a larger effort by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide free renovations to survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings.

If you’re a designer and want to get involved, click here.

If you’re a survivor or know a survivor and want to learn more about applying for assistance, click here.