Brainstorming the Evolution of Space Amid C19

MariaHOLT News

HOLT’s Healthcare, Higher Ed, Housing & Commercial Design architects were put in a virtual room to share industry specific knowledge & generate collective ideas vital to solving the issue at hand.

Eight architects (& one engineer) virtually analyzed the re-opening challenge — and we captured their insights to share, not just for us, but for our entire community to feel more comfortable & connected around reopening.

We designed our office to support collaboration with an open studio, impromptu break-out spaces, and conference rooms holding up to 30 people. Now, with COVID-19, how do we evolve our office to support our workforce?

how do we evolve the office right now? 

We have to approach this as Architects, Business Owners & Problem Solvers


What can we do on a small scale that will have a big impact? What is our budget? Should we be thinking short or long-term? What will work now & still be important & unobtrusive in the future?

What we know

Quay Thompson talks about implementing & adapting based on everything that we know – 1: The Touch Component, 2: Proximity & 3: Duration. We need to come up tools to create the new office based on this.

1: Touch

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, wipe down surfaces. These universal phrases are now ingrained in our daily lives. How can we support and uphold this in our own office?

2: Proximity

People should stay six feet from one another to mitigate spreading the virus. Proper space planning, circulation, and signage that gives cues to what six feet looks like in the office environment can help uphold this. Using outdoor space more effectively can also help.

Using outdoor space more effectively can also help – this article thinks parking lots are a great place to start, and if the weather isn’t cooperating, how about using one of these cool pods?

3: Duration’s April 22, 2020 article “Get Out” is one of the many sources that discusses the transmission of COVID-19 indoors. Will employees feel safe spending a full work-day with one another? Can we adopt air flow practices from healthcare, manufacturing, or laboratory design & use it in the office?

What can we adopt from designing healthcare, manufacturing & laboratory facilities? 

Steve Hugo is thinking about Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) Modeling to look at the way respiratory droplets from a cough or a sneeze move through space. CFD models are used primary for studying the spread of smoke when designing buildings, but we are going to use it to analyze our existing space. Stay tuned for more!

The office provides much more than physical space

Company Culture

The office provides much more to us than physical space. It exemplifies our brand, supports our mission, inspires our employees, aids in engagement, and helps boost morale. It is what drives people and cannot be lost. The move back into the physical workspace must be as positive an experience as possible for everyone. Could we all make a commitment to uphold safe practices, even when we are away from the office? To be honest and understanding, to know that everyone is different and has their own measurements about what keeps them mentally engaged and happy? The challenge now is embracing all of these changes without losing the critical elements that make us who we are – and for HOLT that is collaboration, camaraderie, trust and respect.

On a recent survey, over 82% of HOLT’s employees stated that they wanted to return to the office – either on a part-time basis or other.