• Lee Sheller

Coronavirus and Shelter in Place Updates

In the past, I’ve written about the accelerating pace of change that we experience in our current technological state, but nothing has quite compared to the recent pace of change with respect to the emergence of coronavirus. With this in mind, I have avoided making any statements regarding the studio, as our assumptions are upended from one day to the next. Any statement made is subject to immediate change.

With that said, I will put forth the following, which should be understood as a summary of the state of the studio as of today, April 15.

Like so many others, we are now working remotely. Outside of the initial adjustments, the shelter in place order has not affected our production capacity. We hold studio check-ins three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We have smaller meetings with project teams on a regular basis.

Most of our projects have continued as planned, with the exception of a few projects that we expect to continue later in the year. Construction has not typically been required to stop on projects that were already in progress. Permits continue to be processed remotely at city agencies.

Personally, the remote office has increased my time in participating and reviewing projects, as I cannot see anything ‘over the shoulder’. This in turn has increased my engagement and awareness of project activity and progress, which is largely positive. It has been a struggle in that past to keep up with all of the work, but I am now more engaged than ever before. This has given me a greater perspective, and it is one that I will maintain beyond our shelter in place.

There are of course some challenges associated with adapting in this constantly shifting environment, and there are a number of resources that have appeared online to help. Here are links to a few that we’ve found useful:

Covid 19 Architecture Firm Best Practices, Communications, and Policies

Covid 19 Resources for Architects (AIA)

What does the Coronavirus pandemic mean for architects? (Architect’s Newspaper)

Additional resources:

Covid 19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University

Social Distancing Scoreboard (unacast)

The following is how we have continued to handle, and in some cases modified our processes in communication, file management and field operations. We continue to use Slack for internal office communication and we have increased our use of Google Hangouts and Meet to conduct “all office” meetings and smaller project oriented conversations. We use Zoom when that works best for our clients. File management continues to exist in the cloud on Dropbox, which we have used for many years. We had recently switched to a server for our larger projects that require access by multiple individuals, but these projects have switched back to local and cloud based management systems. Our field operations have been scaled back, but in cases where it has not, we are following all social distancing and safety protocols.

In summary, for the time being we have managed to minimize the impact of the Shelter in Place Order, and business operations continue as typical. We have seen slight slowing in construction and permit processing, but expect this to dissipate as we adjust to a new way of working, and to be eliminated when the Shelter in Place is lifted.

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