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AIA task force coronavirus pandemic

AIA task force to offer advice on converting buildings into healthcare facilities

The American Institute of Architects has launched a task force to consult on how to adapt buildings into healthcare facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Announced yesterday, the initiative by American Institute of Architects (AIA) was created in response to Covid-19 in the US, which now leads the world in confirmed cases.

The task force is intended to provide information on how to convert existing buildings into temporary healthcare facilities to treat those suffering from the virus.

"On a daily basis, I am hearing from our architects who feel a deep sense of moral duty to support our healthcare providers on the frontlines of this pandemic," said AIA president Jane Frederick.

"As our communities assess buildings to address growing surge capacity, we hope this task force will be a resource to ensure buildings are appropriately and safely adapted for our doctors and nurses."

"This is a race against time for healthcare facilities"

Kirsten Waltz, the director of facilities, planning and design at Massachusetts healthcare nonprofit Baystate Health, is working with the task force to advise how to modify hospitals and smaller facilities to meet the surging demand of beds, as well as design more medical screening and triage areas.

"This is a race against time for healthcare facilities to meet bed surge capacity needs," Waltz said.

"This task force will help inform best practices for quickly assessing building inventory and identifying locations that are most appropriate to be adapted for this crisis."

A number of hotels and vacant buildings in America have already turned into temporary relief centres such as New York's Javits Center, which was set to hold the now-cancelled International Contemporary Furniture Fair.

Environmental health scientist and architect Molly Scanlon, who is chair of AIA's task force, said that many more places are needed to treat the number of people that will be affected.

"During the Covid-19 pandemic public health response there is an unprecedented need for the adaptive reuse of buildings to serve a variety of functions," she said.

"Architects and our allied design and construction professionals are in a unique position to leverage our advanced problem-solving skills to bring forth ideas for community implementation."

The AIA is also developing a Covid-19 report called the Rapid Response Safety Space Assessment for members to use to consider the suitability of buildings and spaces sites for relevant care.

Task force follows other proposals to support hospitals

A group of architects with experience in healthcare facility design and disaster assistance are creating the report, which is expected to be released in a few weeks.

A number of architects and designers have already created schemes to ease the pressure on hospitals during the pandemic.

Italian architects Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota have proposed an intensive-care pod within shipping containers. In a similar scheme, Jupe has unveiled the "world's first standalone Intensive Care Unit" and other pop-up care facilities to help hospitals.

As the health pandemic also affects the economy, the AIA has also urged the US government to offer financial assistance to small architecture studios.

Photograph is by Adhy Savala on Unsplash.