This week was all about staying the course. Stimulus payments started hitting Americans’ bank accounts. Some people started to seriously think about when to reopen parts of the country, while others urged us to continue to be cautious. Signs that social distancing works to control the spread of the virus have led many to realize that it will be a permanent part of our lives going forward—indefinitely, or at least until a reliable vaccine is created and distributed worldwide. (Which will probably take a couple of years.) There's still a lot of uncertainty in the air, but the way forward will certainly involve knowledge and data.

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office released six indicators that the state will use to modify its stay-at-home order. While not a complete plan yet, Newsom says, "our actions will be aligned to achieve the following" four requirements:

1. Ensure our ability to care for the sick within our hospitals;
2. Prevent infection in people who are at high risk for severe disease;
3. Build the capacity to protect the health and well-being of the public; and
4. Reduce social, emotional and economic disruptions

California’s six indicators for modifying the stay-at-home order are:

1. The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
2. The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
3. The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
4. The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
5. The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and
6. The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

Over at The Atlantic, reporter Ed Yong makes a compelling case for taking a very cautious position on reopening of the economy as well: Persistent “problems—the continuing testing debacle, the drying supply chains, the relentless pressure on hospitals—should temper any impatience about reopening the country. There won’t be an obvious moment when everything is under control and regular life can safely resume. Even after case counts and death rates fall, the pandemic’s challenges will continue, and will not automatically subside on their own. After all, despite ample warning, the U.S. failed to anticipate what would happen when the coronavirus knocked on its door. It cannot afford to make that mistake again.” [The Atlantic]

Impact on Architecture and the Built Environment

This week, instead of trying to reschedule the 2020 AIA Conference on Architecture for later in the year, The American Institute of Architects decided to cancel it. [ARCHITECT]

To help firms navigate the difficult current business conditions, AIA has released the Architect’s Guide to Business Continuity, which gives firm leaders “insights into managing staff, premises, technology, information, supply chains, stakeholders, and reputation, so a firm can continue to provide services, generate revenue, and reduce the consequences of business interruption.” [ARCHITECT]

A new report from AIA “reveals that revenue at residential architecture firms for March is estimated to have been 15 percent below their expectations at the beginning of the month, while April is expected to be almost 20 percent below previous expectations. ‘Just as the residential sector was getting back on a solid foundation, it has been hit with this setback,’ said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA. ‘Until we have a better understanding of when the homebuilding and home improvement industries can resume their normal pace, demand for residential design activity is expected to suffer.’” [ARCHITECT]

You might get a door again: When you go back to the office—if you go back to the office, that is—Rani Molla reports that it might be much different than the one you left. At the least, the open office will now be taboo and walls and doors will be back in vogue. And get used to UV lights and the ubiquitous smell of disinfectant. [Recode]

Courtesy Roo Williams
Courtesy Roo Williams

Portland, Ore.–based designer Roo Williams has released an open-source design for the EVERYMASK, “a DIY, no sew mask that uses a custom harness to tightly fit a sheet of filter material to a person’s face. It’s built with the idea that SOMETHING is better than nothing.” It’s basically just a head strap with a simple gasket for your face, and you use the tension to hold a cloth filter over your nose and mouth. All you need is a wire hanger, a nylon cord, and some rubber bands. It might be wildly simple, but given that we might be wearing masks that we’re supposed to change often, it might also be brilliant. [Roo Williams]

Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka has devised a super-simple, quick-to-make face shield that uses your own glasses as the frame. In an time when health care professionals have been reported to be using garbage bags and homemade cloth masks as PPE, it’s good to have more and better alternatives for when supplies run low. [Tokujin Yoshioka Design]

Australia has withdrawn from the 2020 Venice Biennale: The Australian Institute of Architects has decided that “the rapidly changing and escalating situation regarding COVID-19 has made it impossible for us to plan for the exhibition, as the health and safety of our staff, members, partners and volunteers is our main priority. We know that COVID-19 is presenting architects with significant financial and economic challenges. Therefore we are going to reallocate our resources to fund initiatives to help support our members as they navigate through this crisis.” [Australian Institute of Architects]

Building and Construction

Senior editor Scott Sowers on the “Pros and Cons of Multifamily Virtual Tours”: “The real estate industry has been slowly moving to more virtual tools to engage with the digital native generation. The virus is pushing operations further into the online realm. But the future of virtual versus personal viewings are unknown.” [MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE]

Buying a house during all of this? If you can, bully for you. Mortgage rates are near all-time lows right now. Of course, with yet another 5.2 million people out of work this week, there are fewer and fewer people who can take advantage of that. And the homebuilding industry responded by pulling back on housing starts and permits in March. [BUILDER]

Associate editor Mary Salmonsen talks to Felicite Moorman, CEO and co-founder of STRATIS IoT, which makes smart tech for apartment buildings, about some of the things that multifamily developers and operators can do to accommodate the increase in working from home, which will likely continue in some form even after many of the stay-at-home orders are lifted. [MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE]

An article and webinar offer lessons for the U.S. and U.K. real estate markets from Asian markets that have already started coming out of their quarantines. [Bisnow]

Permitting and transportation problems are a couple of ways that the supply chain is being disrupted over the next few months. [MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE]


Iraqi architect and author Rifat Chadirji poses for a portrait in his summer home in Halat, Lebanon, on March 29, 2008.
Paul Taggart / WPN Iraqi architect and author Rifat Chadirji poses for a portrait in his summer home in Halat, Lebanon, on March 29, 2008.

Architect and theoretician Rifat Chadirji, Hon. FAIA, renowned for his modernist contributions to architecture in his native Iraq and throughout the Middle East, died at the age of 93 in his London home on April 10. [ARCHITECT]

Other Notable Stories We've Been Reading

Being stuck at home is not a good option for victims of domestic abuse. In San Francisco, the district attorney saw a 60% increase in clients referred to its Victim Services Division. Senior editor Scott Sowers reports that the city has partnered with real estate developer Veritas to provide 20 homes in buildings throughout the city where domestic abuse survivors can safely live, with their children and pets, free of charge for 90 days. [MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE]

Epidemiological best practices for contact tracing in the developing world are now being brought to the United States and elsewhere. A Massachusetts company is hiring 500 people to track the virus (with plans to double that), and San Francisco is adding another 100 people to do the same. With little federal guidance, states and cities are taking this up on their own. [STAT]

Using COVID-19 data, instead of data from previous studies of SARS and MERS like other models have done, a team at MIT has developed a model of the pandemic spread that works in conjunction with a neural network to quantify the effectiveness of quarantine measures. Their “results unequivocally indicate that the countries in which rapid government interventions and strict public health measures for quarantine and isolation were implemented were successful in halting the spread of infection and prevent it from exploding exponentially.” [MIT]



Hanley Wood publications are working together to track how state-by-state mandates are affecting the construction and building materials supplier industries. We’re updating the map and the data as they develop, so bookmark this page and check in often. [JOURNAL OF LIGHT CONSTRUCTION]

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in Seattle, a research institute founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is tracking and projecting the spread and peak of COVID-19 through the United States in the coming months, as well as projected numbers of deaths in each state, as measured by needed hospital capacity. [IHME]

Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering has a worldwide real-time tracker of the spread of the virus and its impact. [CSSE]

On the Way Out ...

In Shanghai, Aric Chen is out of his mandatory 14-day quarantine and gives us a video pep talk for the Virtual Design Festival:

“Things can, will, and are getting better ... ” [Dezeen]

So stay safe out there everyone, keep washing your hands and wearing your masks, and we’ll see you here again next week.