Reopening America: Strategies for safer buildings

People walking in to and out of building entrance

The COVID-19 pandemic has risked the public's health and safety in buildings across the US and beyond. As states began reopening communities, AIA embarked on an initiative to explore how design strategies, backed by science, can be a public health solution. “Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Buildings,” is intended to provide design professionals, employers, building owners, and public officials with tools and resources for reducing risk when re-occupying buildings during the pandemic.

As part of the initiative, AIA convened a team of architects, public health experts, engineers, and facility managers who conducted virtual design charrettes to develop strategies for:

  • reducing the spread of pathogens in buildings
  • accommodating physical distancing practices
  • promoting mental well-being
  • fulfilling alternative operational and functional expectations

The team developed strategies based on emerging science, infectious disease transmission data, epidemiological models, and research.

Outcomes from the charettes were used to develop new and enhanced tools that provide processes and strategies for protecting the health and safety of the public while resuming services. It is important to note that the reports below are intended to be cross referenced.

Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Offices

Includes strategies for break rooms, elevators, entrances, HVAC, lobbies, offices, restrooms, and waiting areas.

Strategies for safer offices (3D models) (published June 9, 2020) >

Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Schools

Includes strategies for assembly spaces, cafeterias, classrooms, entrances, gymnasiums, HVAC, locker rooms, and nurse's offices.

Strategies for safer schools (3D models) (published June 17, 2020) >

Reopening America: Strategies for Retail Stores

Includes strategies for checkout, HVAC, merchandising, and stock rooms.

Strategies for safer retail stores (3D models) (published June 9, 2020)  >

Strategies for Safer Senior Living Communities

Includes strategies for dining facilities, amenity spaces, and individual units.

Strategies for safer senior living communities (3D models) (published June 30, 2020)  >

Strategies for Safer Multifamily Housing

Includes analysis and strategies for entrance, lobby, circulation, common amenities, service spaces and individual dwelling units.

Strategies for safer multifamily housing (published August 12, 2020)  >

Strategies for Safer Polling Places

Includes guidelines for mitigating the transmission risk of COVID-19 in polling places.

Strategies for safer polling places (3D models) (published October 1, 2020)  >

Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Buildings

Reopening America: Strategies for safer buildings (published June 1, 2020)  >

COVID-19 emerging research and public health data (published June 1, 2020)  >


Risk Management Plan for Buildings (published June 1, 2020)  >

Re-occupancy Assessment Tool (published July 1, 2020)  >

COVID-19 Arch Map >

Learn more

On-demand course: Strategies for safer buildings: Re-occupancy in the face of COVID19

Image credits

People walking in to and out of building entrance