COVID-19, Pandemic, Return to Work, Interview, Q/A, Leadership, Janet Pogue McLaurin, Kate Davis Campbell, Michael Murphey
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly everything we considered to be normalâ€”and that includes how and what architects design. Read how leading firms across the nation are reimagining six major building typologies for use during and after the pandemic.
Editor's note: This cover story for ARCHITECT's January/February 2021 issue comprises a series of Q+As with leading architects and designers in six building typologies. Three typologiesâ€”corporate, multifamily and industrialâ€”are available below. The remaining threeâ€”Kâ€“12, health care, and culturalâ€”will be rolled out throughout February.
Whatâ€™s next? A year ago, the answer that no one foresaw would be â€śa pandemic.â€ť Though the COVID-19 pandemic will end, architecture cannotâ€”and will notâ€”simply return to its old habits and forms. The global health emergency has changed how we live, travel, and work. It has altered how we use and navigate space, what we expect regarding safety and sanitation, and the way we greet strangers and loved ones. Within the design profession, the pandemic has upended workflows and challenged architectâ€“client rapport.
Some of these changes, like lingering side effects, will outlast the pandemic itself. But while the ground is still shifting, the future is ripe for rethinking. What will smart, safe, and beautiful design look like in a post-vaccine, post-pandemic world? And how can architects meet changing demands in an altered professional landscape that has yet to recover from the recession? Through the kaleidoscope of contingencies and unknowns, firms are listening to their clients, users, and staff more closely than ever. Theyâ€™re asking new questions and theyâ€™re getting creative.
As the improvised solutions of last year give way to more permanent design responses, leading architects in six key building sectorsâ€”corporate, multifamily residential, industrial, Kâ€“12 education, health care, and culturalâ€”share how they are positioning their practices to take on the emerging challenges and opportunities.
For starters, architects are now asked to reimagine offices to entice employees back to the formal workplaceâ€”but how? Can multifamily projects adapt to the new imperatives of working from home? As the volume of packages entering our countryâ€™s logistics and distribution systems continues to surge, how can industrial architecture meet the demand? Can designers team with school administrators to rethink educational environments that break free of traditional classroom units? How can health care architects help their clients manage infectious diseases and increase access to care for marginalized communities? Can architects design public spaces that preserve open spaces amid strained government budgets?
And, finally, as calls for equity gain support in the general public, will the pandemic accelerate the professionâ€™s role in elevating the lives of not only elite clients, but also of everyday and underserved Americans?