Architects, Health Experts Release Strategies, Tools for Safely Reopening Buildings

AIA issues three new and enhanced tools for reducing risk of COVID-19 transmission in buildings.
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As communities across the US initiate phased reopening plans, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is releasing new resources today to support employers, public officials and design professionals with re-occupying buildings more safely.

“Communities need guidance for reopening buildings safely during the pandemic,” said 2020 AIA President Jane Frederick, FAIA. “This initiative used credible science and current infectious disease data to develop practical strategies that can help businesses reopen their doors more safely during this pandemic.”

AIA’s initiative included a team of architects, public health experts, engineers, and facility managers who developed strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in buildings, promote social distancing standards, and enhance wellbeing in communities transitioning to new lifestyle norms. A comprehensive report of the initiative is available on AIA’s website.

Initial outcomes from the team were used to develop new and enhanced tools that can assist employers, building owners, and design teams with best practices to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public while providing services.

  • Tool #1 - Risk Management Plan for Buildings – Provides a comprehensive process for assessing hazards in buildings and reducing risk. This methodology not only can be applied during the pandemic but for all shocks and stresses to create more resilient buildings and businesses.
  • Tool #2 - AIA Re-occupancy Assessment Tool (2.0) - Provides an enhanced framework of strategies for re-opening buildings, including restaurants, retailers, offices, senior living facilities, schools and housing.
  • Tool #3 - COVID-19 ArchMapArchitects can now input design strategies that mitigate risk of COVID-19 for any building type to AIA’s map. The map is produced in partnership with the University of Kansas’ Institute of Health + Wellness Design and intended to facilitate design innovation.

Outcomes from the charettes are also being used to develop tailored strategies and considerations for offices, retailers, schools, and senior living facilities. Individualized reports will be released in phases, in the near future.

AIA’s team used a virtual charrette workshop-a method used to study specific issues in a limited time frame using an intense brainstorming session-to develop the strategies.

As part of the sessions, a group of public, environmental, and occupational health experts and physicians provided an independently developed, 90-minute briefing on SARS-CoV-2 infectious disease transmission, epidemiological models, and insights into the most current research of the virus as of early May.

A complete summary of the public health briefing is available online.

Visit AIA’s website for more COVID-19 resources for architects.

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