Architect Jonathan Marvel is redesigning Puerto Rico’s power grids (and communities) to make them hurricane-proof
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]

[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]

Architect Jonathan Marvel is redesigning Puerto Rico’s power grids (and communities) to make them hurricane-proof

Adele Peters



When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, in 2017, architect Jonathan Marvel, who was born on the island and now works in New York, saw an opportunity to rethink the island’s infrastructure. He cofounded Resilient Power Puerto Rico (RPPR), a nonprofit that has restored electricity to some of the poorest communities by taking advantage of the island’s abundant sun. RPPR built its first “solar hub” a month after the storm, and has since installed more than 30 at community centers. But instead of just donating solar panels and batteries, RPPR helped recruit and train locals to install them, created a tool kit that communities can use to plan and finance new solar hubs themselves, and set up water-treatment systems that run on the solar power. Marvel is now developing plans for resilient housing communities that can survive future storms better by not being grid reliant. Puerto Rico, he says, “could be an example for the rest of the planet on how to be completely independent, from an energy perspective.”