Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Puerto Rico has experienced three major disasters in the last five years, the hurricanes María and Irma in 2017 and earthquake swarms in the winter of 2020. Post-disaster vulnerabilities studies have concluded that municipalities in rural Puerto Rico present high exposure and risk in future disasters. Parallel to this context, thousands of 20th-century public schools were closed in the last decade due to damage and disinvestment in public infrastructure on the island. Not only has this reduced educational resources but also available emergency shelters. This thesis has studied vacant 20th-century public schools in Puerto Rico as an opportunity to reclaim these spaces for emergency response and recovery through sustainable equitable revitalization of rural communities. In order to envision a future of rural preservation and self-governance, the thesis applies a three-phase model called the PLAUSIBLE FUTURES TRIANGLE. First, it studies politics of education and extensive public school construction in Puerto Rico after the American occupation in 1898, including urban and rural typologies. Second, it explores bottom-up approaches of transformative resistance paradigms employed by grassroots organizations as first responders in post-disaster scenarios. Lastly, it applies the tactical design of the Washington Irving school in Adjuntas, a 1903 rural school that exemplifies the history of 20th-century typologies. The adaptive reuse framework builds on existing grassroots programs for autonomy in disaster emergency and post-disaster reconstruction. The proposed design consists of tactics that follow the dimensional classroom transformation, independent superstructures or roofs design, and furniture systems while maintaining the character-defining elements of the historic school.


natural disaster, plausible futures, Puerto Rico, schools, tactical preservation



Date Posted: 08 July 2022