Reimagining Covid-era buildings
Crises, both natural and man-made, have long driven change in architecture and urban planning. In the coronavirus era, when indoor spaces have become danger zones, architects have been tasked with figuring out how to make social gatherings and community activities possible again. The Times recently asked several how they’re thinking outside the six-foot bubble.
Claire Weisz of WXY, an urban design and architecture firm in New York, has proposed putting up awnings over sidewalks, so stores that lack the space for social distancing can put their wares outside. The idea draws on a New York City program that has allowed restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas into the street.
Ms. Weisz also came up with inventive ways to help adapt a Brooklyn school that plans to welcome students back for in-person learning. One solution was to use socially distanced markings that resemble a playground game on the sidewalks where students wait to begin their staggered schedules. Another New York firm, SITU, designed special shelters for the school where children can take part in activities, with a partitioned area for temperature checks.
Michael Murphy, a co-founder of MASS Design Group in Boston, is perhaps one of the most qualified people to advise hospitals on how to operate safely right now. His firm has designed clinics in Rwanda and Haiti, where airborne infections are more common. Their facilities prioritize natural light and fresh air over expensive HEPA filters. U.S. hospitals have focused on maximizing elaborate ventilation systems, with windows an afterthought — a decision that led many to be expensively retrofitted for Covid-19 patients.
The firm has developed guidelines for hospitals, restaurants, jails and senior homes to operate safely during the pandemic. Among its suggestions is for seniors to live in “villages” of multiple units that share a game room or balcony so that residents don’t crowd large multipurpose rooms.
A Times reporter volunteers for a vaccine
Our colleague Helene Cooper, a Pentagon correspondent, was invited by George Washington University Hospital to participate in a trial for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. The researchers targeted her for her coronavirus risk factors: She is a Black woman, Type 1 diabetic and asthmatic.
She signed up. (In March, Helene asked Dr. Anthony Fauci what would happen if she contracted the virus. “I’m not saying you’re a dead duck, but I cannot stress enough that you really need to not get it,” he replied.)
Last Wednesday, after a sleepless night, Helene received the first of her two injections, becoming participant No. 130 in George Washington University’s portion of the Moderna trials. She described the experience:
The shot went into my upper arm. I felt little more than a pinch. They made me stick around for 30 more minutes to monitor my vital signs and then sent me home with a swag bag that included a digital thermometer, instructions to fill an electronic diary every night monitoring my symptoms, some hand sanitizer and a gift card with $100, my first payment for donating my immune system to science. My second shot will be administered on Sept. 28.
With the Moderna trial, the side effects reported so far have been typical: fever, chills, muscle and joint soreness. No one has dropped dead from it yet, which I took as a good sign.
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
We’ve treated ourselves to a motion-triggered outdoor wildlife camera. So far, we’ve been enthralled to see our garden being used at night as a feeding ground for badgers, foxes, a family of hedgehogs and even a sika deer. Every day we look forward to viewing the previous night’s activity.
— Paul Sewart, Bolton, England
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