COVID-19: Getting involved

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The COVID-19 public health crisis has rapidly reshaped the world’s attention and priorities. Beyond the demands of managing firms, and concerns about the broader economy, one of the most common questions AIA is receiving now is: How do I get involved?

The answer depends on your specific skillset, which determines when and how you get involved.

  • If you are an architect who specializes in the health industry, there is no doubt that you are deeply involved in the effort already, designing temporary hospitals to increase hospital beds and capabilities. Members of AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program are working with civic leaders and health officials in affected areas across the country. We deeply thank all of the healthcare architects who are working day and night to meet the demands placed on our hospitals.  

But there is still a role for the rest of us.

  • 3-D printing. News outlets have covered this (NBC, Forbes, and CNN among others). Some companies have provided plans for both N95 masks and personal protective equipment. At this time, AIA’s Disaster Assistance Committee and the US Conference of Mayors suggest working with your local hospital officials to determine need.
  • Advocacy. First, speak up. AIA is 95,000 members strong, and your voice is key. Be an advocate, at all levels of government, for the profession. At the national level, AIA is advocating Congress to include needed infrastructure investments in ongoing economic stimulus policies. Become a Citizen Architect and join us.  
  • Contact Local Leaders. The AIA is a partner with the US Conference of Mayors (USCM). The USCM is updating its resource page on usmayors.org where members of the business community can post information and their support for cities. The USCM is focused on 1) securing funding in the economic stimulus legislation, 2) locating masks, ventilators, and personal protective equipment; and 3) sharing information with each other for their own “first responder” efforts: stalling evictions, providing loans and assistance to small businesses, using parks and rec facilities to provide childcare to essential workers, etc.

As mentioned, if you are an architect with expertise in the health industry, you’re most likely already involved in these efforts. If you don’t have those skills, USCM leaders say they need innovative thinking around how to host equitable digital public meetings and developing temporary facilities for homeless populations. These are just a couple of ideas from the USCM, and every city will have unique needs. Work with your AIA component and local officials to be able to provide the best support to your community.

  • Think about next steps. Architects are amazing planners and problem solvers. AIA members are part of the solution for how we transition to life after the pandemic.  Specifically: What considerations do we need for plumbing, electrical or HVAC systems? Longer term, how will our workspaces change? Will we need to renovate to mitigate the spread of disease and infection? Will social distancing become a part of our design plans going forward? No one knows. But someone needs to plan for that.  

For most of us, however, our job is to stay healthy, and think for when this is over. Now is the time to develop the plans for how our homes, workplaces, public spaces, and schools will change post-COVID-19.  

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