Building Condition Surveys Post-Pandemic and What They Mean for Our Schools’ Future

Author:

Daniel B. Heukrath, AIA, LEED AP Practice Leader | Architecture

Category:

  • Business of Design
  • Design

Posted:

May 21, 2020

Leveraging Building Condition Surveys to Address the “New Normal” in Our Schools

We all understand the importance of regular, comprehensive assessments of your existing facilities, but now more than ever, an understanding of how your current assets may be affected in the “new age of pandemics” is vital for the safe and reliable operations of your school’s day-to-day activities.

Key elements of the building condition survey process may identify areas that may come into conflict with the current- and foreseeable future- COVID-19 way of functioning. The “new normal” in schools will likely heavily impact and change the way we used to think and function around social interactions, building automation systems, environmental comfort, safety, security, and maintenance activities.

The Building Condition Surveys is a comprehensive assessment and valuable tool that can effectively and cost efficiently assess any potential existing building risks and help schools develop their pandemic preparedness plans. Now more than ever, the best, most comprehensive data is needed to achieve optimal post-pandemic school operations.

New, Different and  Non-Conventional Design Choices Must Now Be Given Consideration

Social Distancing and its guidelines are in conflict with normal school group activities that we take for granted. How will ‘forced’ interactions at bus drop-offs, building entries and lobbies, as well as using stairs and elevators need to be changed? Not only will building accessibility need to be assessed, but pedestrian and vehicle circulation will now also warrant further study. Staggering shifts? Toilet rooms? More single-direction stairs, less/restricted elevator use?

  • Common and typical behaviors will be scrutinized to balance health risks and mitigation.
  • Providing more choice to be creative in circulation will be studied in the future.

Many questions need answers regarding managing public movement at multiple entry points. Developing appropriate, sensible procedures will be crucial in promoting a sense of safety and comfort for students, parents, staff, and visitors.

  • What control mechanisms can be considered to manage incoming vs. outgoing people-traffic? Vehicle traffic? Public transit?
  • Ordinary playground uses and waiting for the bus will require new guidelines. What design methods can help increase spacing?
  • Will groupings of doors as well as elevators be eliminated?
  • Will open stairs be the preferred method of floor-to-floor travel?
  •  How will physical and technological monitoring change, and can those changes be accommodated in existing facilities?

New Pandemic influences on learning space configurations and operations may result in reversing trends toward large open collaboration spaces for gathering that will now or later require validation or justification. 

By providing a comprehensive scorecard of every part of your facility, the Building Conditions Survey process helps to formulate and solidify your school district’s plans for reopening and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for learning. Design professionals should prepare to review and discuss with school officials their pandemic preparedness plan to:

    1. Assess the impact the plan has on existing facilities
    2. Project an opinion of probable cost for potential remediation or construction required
    3. Identify key changes to building layouts, systems, operations, and maintenance
    4. Analyze impacts on short- and long-term changes to programming needs and building operations and components

NKB has performed more than 1 million square feet of Building Condition Surveys and Visual Inspections! We’re ready and available to help prepare your school facilities for the “new normal.” For more information or to see how Dan & the NKB team can help your school implement improvements in your facilities, contact Dan at dheukrath@nkbpc.com.

Author:

Daniel B. Heukrath, AIA, LEED AP Practice Leader | Architecture

Category:

  • Business of Design
  • Design

Posted:

May 21, 2020