COVID-19 brings design changes to many organizations

It might not be an official form of architecture, but among the vast changes 2020 has presented, "COVID-19 design" is on the list at CNH Architects.

COVID-19 has prompted a lot of change. Including the way organizations and their office buildings respond to keeping employees and visitors safe.

Several of the following projects have been prompted by the pandemic. Others, such as Apple Valley City Hall, have had to pivot their plans to include "COVID-19 design."

Lino Lakes Public Works

At the Lino Lakes Public Works Building, public service counters and wayfinding throughout the building will be updated. Screen partitions will act as physical barriers against airborne transfer. Wayfinding updates will direct public circulation within the building to promote better social distancing. Public and staff space will become more defined.

Wayfinding design provides spatial and environmental cues to effectively navigate a space.

Easy-to-clean finishes are also being incorporated in the space, to aid in preventing surface transfers of the virus.

Work will be completed by November 2020.

Apple Valley City Hall

Apple Valley City Hall front desk before glass partitions

Apple Valley City Hall front desk after the addition of glass partitions.

Apple Valley City Hall was already under a remodel to include training rooms, storage and office space when the pandemic hit, resulting in adjustments to the project.

"When the pandemic hit, adding glass partitions at the reception desk to enhance the safety of the receptionists who have the most public interaction was added to the scope." CNH Senior Associate Interior Designer Ashley Klis explained.

Not only did COVID-19 add more work and time to the project, it also impacted materials and equipment. Glass partitions are in high demand due to COVID-19 and have been back ordered for months.

The initial project started in December 2019 and finished in spring 2020, except for the partitions.

The project looks to finish (again) this September.

"Glass was selected for this project because the installation is a permanent addition that also serves to increase security for staff," Klis explained.

Dakota County Community Development Agency

Dakota County Community Development Agency (CDA) will add more screening between tellers and clientele. This will aid in prevention of airborne transfer of the virus.

Dakota County CDA is one of the largest housing and community development programs in the Midwest, administering over 30 different programs and serving over 10,000 people daily.

The screening needs to go up quickly as possible with as little interruption to the workplace as possible. As with all CNH projects, efficiency and quality go hand-in hand, and it's a bonus when it can help their local community.

"We are providing services that help support a local agency that aids the public," said CNH Senior Associate Architect Al Tsai.

Construction will start after Labor Day.

Post Consumer Brands

COVID-19 design at Post Consumer Brands in Lakeville includes card readers and touchless actuators (wave-to-open) to entries and major circulation routes. "These components help prevent surface transfer of the virus as well has controlling access to the buildings," explained  Tsai.

These updates are necessary for Post employees to return to the workplace in a safely. To make the plan a reality in a few short weeks, CNH worked with Loeffler Construction and door hardware consultant ECSI. Short timelines can always be challenging, but are no problem for this team.

"We make it work by working efficiently, investigating existing conditions thoroughly, and asking the right questions," said Tsai.

About CNH Architects
CNH Architects is a full-service architectural firm providing architectural design, interior design, and planning for corporate, commercial, manufacturing, and recreational facility owners – as well as government agencies.