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Professional Bodies / Public health

Raft of design resources offer strategies on re-occupying buildings in pandemic

By Andrew Sansom 26 Jun 2020 0

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is continuing to provide guidance on how design, backed by science, can help US states reopen their communities amid COVID-19.

The AIA’s ‘Reopening America: Strategies for safer buildings’ collection is intended to provide design professionals, employers, building owners, and public officials with tools and resources for reducing risk when re-occupying buildings during the pandemic. 

As part of the initiative, the AIA convened a team of architects, public health experts, engineers, and facility managers, who conducted virtual design charrettes to develop strategies for: 

  • reducing the spread of pathogens in buildings;
  • accommodating physical distancing practices;
  • promoting mental wellbeing; and 
  • fulfilling alternative operational and functional expectations.

The team developed strategies based on emerging science, infectious disease transmission data, epidemiological models, and research. Outcomes from the charettes were used to develop new and enhanced tools that provide processes and strategies for protecting the health and safety of the public while resuming services. It’s important to note that the reports below are intended to be cross-referenced.

The guidance ‘Reopening America: strategies for safer offices’ includes design advice for break rooms, elevators, entrances, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, lobbies, offices, restrooms, and waiting areas. ‘Strategies for safer schools’ includes strategies for assembly spaces, cafeterias, classrooms, entrances, gymnasiums, HVAC, locker rooms, and nurses’ offices. And ‘Strategies for retail stores’ includes design approaches for checkout areas, HVAC, merchandising, and stock rooms.

In addition, the Reopening America series includes ‘Strategies for safer buildings’, accompanied by a document on ‘COVID-19 emerging research and public health data’. This is complemented by a set of resources, including a ‘Risk management plan for buildings’, a ‘Re-occupancy assessment tool’, and the COVID-19 Arch Map

The map provides a repository for design projects that either: modify an existing building or site to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission; develop a new project or strategy to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission; or adapt a space to provide healthcare for COVID-19 or other patients. Architects can submit COVID-19 related projects for consideration, and projects can either be planned, in progress or completed.

Organisations involved