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BRIEFING: Post Pandemic Design Considerations

May 22, 2020

While universally acknowledging the short-term nature of COVID-19, a trio of architects met virtually on Thursday, May 21st to discuss designing the post-pandemic city.  Principals from FoxArchitects, Perkins Eastman, and Hickok Cole held a virtual town hall to exchange ideas about anticipated impacts on architectural design from the COVID-19 experience.

Chief takeaways from the discussion included a growing emphasis on “well-building” design as a companion to LEED, with an emphasis on interior air environments and the health of individual building occupants. 

Discussed design elements included:

  • greater efforts to bring natural air and light into spaces,
  • increasing the number of building entrances,
  • increasing the number of windows,
  • implementing touchless technologies, including elevator operations,
  • including outdoor terrace spaces and direct physical access to outdoors, and,
  • the return of operable windows.

The designers also emphasized the importance of addressing the mental health of building occupants, mainly through the incorporation of enhanced communication and transparency of efforts to assure a healthy building environment.  They viewed this aspect as particularly significant in light of the now-established remote capabilities of many workers.

Of particular interest from a legal perspective would be the role zoning and public policy will likely play in this area.  Topics introduced in Thursday’s discussion included:

  • a certainty that, like LEED, well-building mandates will eventually make their way into zoning and building codes;
  • urban development will be looked upon to provide additional and enhanced public spaces;
  • there will be a desire for more open spaces – and more parks – to create healthful environments;
  • these spaces will be needed to encourage non-remote work and to compete with less dense suburban environments;
  • building height impacts on air and light could be reemphasized;
  • facilitating conversions of office to residential/mixed-use and to protect FAR in the creation of new spaces will remain important; and,
  • an increased reliance on form-based zoning codes should be expected.

If you have questions about how these changes may impact a project you are currently working on or plan to be involved in, don’t hesitate to contact one of the attorneys in the Land Use and Zoning Group, or the Shulman Rogers attorney you typically work with.


Todd D. Brown

Nancy P. Regelin


This publication is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting a lawyer.