By Mike Waldinger, Honorary AIA, CEO of AIA Colorado
The instinctive response of the architecture profession to step forward in times of crisis validates the trust the state places in those practitioners to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. There are four arenas we’ve heard requests to help and where we’ve identified pathways to do so most effectively.
First, in the hospital sector directly. Flattening the curve helps reduce the strain on critical care facilities. Even so, many projections indicate capacity will be exceeded during peak periods. Firms who are already serving this market are the architecture industry’s front line. They have ongoing relationships with these clients and most are hard at work assessing and modifying the necessary health care infrastructure with their consultants to help meet the demand. There is perhaps no occupancy type with as many additional standards and guidelines as this one. It is for that reason that we would not encourage people to donate professional architectural services. There are many liability and standard of care concerns which are no less whether paid for those services or not. Additionally, the firms who specialize in health care provide billable hours to their employees at a time when they most need to keep staff on payroll.
This is also a good time to remind members practicing in this space to take advantage of the Academy of Architecture for Health. This national AIA knowledge community has a Colorado specific peer network which meets every first Thursday. It is free for members to take part n both. When someone contacts us at AIA Colorado looking for experts, these are the people and firms we proudly refer them to.
Second, in support of health care workers, first responders and essential workers who need personal protective equipment. A coalition of volunteer makers across the state of Colorado from a variety of industries has ramped up production. The CU-Denver College of Architecture was one of the first participants in Make4Covid, 3D printing components for face shields. To participate in the production effort, go to https://www.make4covid.co/ and set up an account. This lets you join a team, see what is needed currently and download the CAD files necessary to make the PPE. If you don’t have the equipment but would like to support keeping the machines running and the material stocked, contributions are accepted at the same site. This is part of a nationwide effort to stem shortages of critical supplies and provide needed parts for medical equipment that the AE community is embracing. For more on that, see here.
Third, in the identification and adaptation of facilities suitable for health care surge capacity. A national go/no go checklist is available to assess potential spaces.
For projects that are completed, in progress or planned, a national database exists to share best practices and more rapidly deploy conversions. If you are involved in any of these projects, you are encouraged to submit. Only one Colorado project is listed at the time of this writing.
Many of us have seen news coverage of the large-scale conversions of convention centers and setting up temporary field hospitals. These are being coordinated by the Army Corps of Engineers. A number of firms with a Colorado presence have been tapped for this work and there is a registration process to get on a list of those private sector resources.
Firms and individuals interested in working on this should take the first step of registering.
Within SAM.gov is the Disaster Response Registry, where you can register your company’s unique capabilities.
If their services are needed, architects obtain a mission number from the state Emergency Management Agency or through an Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
Fourth and finally, if you just want to volunteer where needed most, the best way to do that is though the Help Colorado Now COVID-19 Response page. There are many ways to help, both as an individual and as a company at https://covrn.com
As we approach the peak case load in the next few weeks, we look forward to hearing the ways AIA members are supporting the medical community and making a difference in the lives of our neighbors.