The theme for this week, which is seemingly everywhere, has been: “How do we get back to work safely?” As more and more states lift stay-at-home restrictions, regardless of whether their infection and hospitalization rates have peaked or not, more and more organizations started releasing guides for how to do so as safely as possible. One of the highest profile of these is probably the newest service from Salesforce, hosted at the super-convenient and easy-to-remember address Their guide to reopening offices and places of business includes a subscription service that includes ways to consolidate and track your employees’ interactions—with contact tracing, shift management, wellness assessments, and more—built into a Workplace Command Center, all designed with flashy graphics and app pop-up screens. But in a sign of how fast-moving this sector is, even Salesforce, one of the most successful business-management companies in the nation, is still working frantically to set this up, with six of the eight features of the platform saying “Coming Soon” on their website.

This week, The American Institute of Architects released the first version of its Re-occupancy Assessment Tool. The 19-page document, as the Institute writes in the introduction, is meant “to provide architects, private clients, and civic leaders a framework of strategies for reoccupying buildings and businesses that are in the process of transitioning from being fully closed to fully open. This document aims to provide a range of general mitigation measures to consider, with the understanding that the risk of infection can only be ‘flattened’ and not eliminated entirely. Solutions require a coordinated approach between building features and operational practices.” The guide uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “hierarchy of controls” framework (see the image above) and information from health care experts to set up checklists for general conditions (baseline parameters) and workplace controls.

But with all of the uncertainty surrounding how to safely reopen businesses and offices, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the safest way for most of us to keep working will continue to be at home. So senior editor Wanda Lau has revised and updated our guide for working from home adapted and edited from an online living document created by Evelyn Lee, AIA, and Je’Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA. No one is going to want to be the canaries in this coal mine, and many of us are still going to be working from our home offices while others test those waters.

And with that, here are some of the other stories that we've been watching this week ...

Impact on Architecture and the Built Environment

On May 2, we lost John Paul Eberhard, FAIA, a pioneer in understanding the neurological impact of the built environment and the founding president of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, to complications of the coronavirus and congestive heart failure. He was 93. [ARCHITECT]

The AIA New York | Center for Architecture is partnering with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development to offer family-friendly architecture-related activities to do at home (#ArchitectureAtHome), such as How to Make a Blueprint Drawing (above), Draw a Memory Map of Your Unique Neighborhood, and more. [AIA New York | Center for Architecture]

Alicia Cho

From Ming Thompson, AIA, co-founder of New Haven, Conn.–based Atelier Cho Thompson and co-chair of AIA Connecticut's Women in Architecture committee: “In the last half-century, the profession has gained more women than ever and is finally promoting women to its highest echelons. The COVID-19 pandemic imperils this progress, but it also presents an opportunity to think differently about the way architects live, work, and practice.” [ARCHITECT]

While not caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Royal Institute of British Architects is without a president after Alan Jones temporarily stepped down on March 31 because of a “serious incident.” The nomination process for the next RIBA president starts next week. [The Architect's Newspaper]

The Helsinki Biennial, an event that “will present 40 international artists or groups of artists from both Finland and around the world” was scheduled to be open to the public this June, but now has been moved to next year. The new dates for the international art event will be June 12 to Sept. 26, 2021. [Helsinki Biennial]

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Petra Weizel

Light + Building, the biannual lighting trade show held in Frankfurt, Germany, is canceled for this year. Instead of rescheduling for next year, the organizers are skipping this biannual cycle and holding the next one as scheduled, March 13–18, 2022. [ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING]

Building and Construction

Mortgage rates came off their record low of 3.23% last week, but not by much, to 3.26%. [BUILDER]

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index fell an additional 17.8 points in April to 63.0, its lowest reading since November 2011, with both the people saying that it's a good time to buy a house falling from 56% to 48% and those saying that it's a good time to sell a house falling from 52% to 29%. Homeowners are split pretty equally on the question of whether home prices will go up, down, or stay the same over the next 12 months. [BUILDER]

Sign up for the next installment of Hanley Wood’s #BuildersAreEssential webinar series: The Future is Now. Tim Costello, of Builder Homesite, will discuss “the role of innovation, data, and technology in matching people with their homes. ... Learn how home builders are compressing six years of innovation in moving customers from contact to contract in VR-and-AI-enabled, people friendly, friction-free processes, fit for post-COVID recovery.” The episode will stream on Monday, May 11, at 2 p.m. Pacific. [HANLEY WOOD]

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts a decline in home improvement expenses this year in the majority of the nation’s 47 largest metropolitan areas. [REMODELING]

In April, ProSales magazine surveyed 130 building materials dealers, nearly half of whom worry that the COVID-19 outbreak will cause their companies to permanently close this year. [PROSALES]

Our colleagues over at Pool and Spa News has a guide for how pool and spa contractors can position themselves to have an effective and productive relationship with their local governments, which will continue to be important in the new normal as the economy slowly opens back up. [POOL AND SPA NEWS]

Other Notable Stories We’ve Been Reading

The Penn Wharton Budget Model is tracking the economic effects of the coronavirus policy response, and has a simulator to predict the effects of when and how states lift stay-at-home restrictions and reopen their economies. The predictions range from keeping all lockdowns in place through the end of June, which would bring the COVID-19 death toll to 117,000 and reduce national GDP to 12% lower than what it was a year before, to a full immediate reopening, which could push the death count to nearly a million people by the end of June. [Forbes]

FEMA has begun the disassembling and closing of the temporary field hospital set up at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan. Between that facility and the USNS Comfort, the two facilities “have treated 1,100 patients in total, and never came close to approaching their full capacity. As of Friday, just 32 patients were receiving care aboard the Comfort, which has space for 1,000 people, the FEMA spokesperson said. Of the 2,500 beds inside the Javits Center reserved for COVID-19 patients, only 141 were full.” [Gothamist]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking coronavirus cases at the nation's 115 meat processing plants, which the White House has ordered to remain open via use of the Defense Production Act. As of May 1, there had been 4,913 reported cases and 20 deaths (out of the nearly 130,000 workers). [Axios]

A group of industrial design students at Pratt Institute are suing the school to get their tuition money back, claiming that “the online learning options being offered to Pratt students are subpar in practically every aspect, from the lack of facilities, materials and access to faculty,” a lawyer for the students wrote in the suit. "Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback and critique.” [Core77]

In eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Hongyuan Park security staff have been outfitted with Rokid smart glasses that use a camera and artificial intelligence. “Each smart glass user will be capable of checking the temperature of several hundred people within two minutes.” [South China Morning Post]



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. [ARCHITECT]

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, 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 ...

Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., has canceled all tours through the end of this month. They are contacting those with reservations to reschedule. For now, enjoy watching the daffodils sway with the breeze in front of Johnson's glass-box masterpiece in the Instagram post above. [The Glass House]

That's it for this week. As always, stay safe out there, keep washing your hands and wearing your masks, and we’ll see you here again next week.