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How COVID-19 may change the way schools, other large buildings are built

Posted at 12:06 PM, Jul 30, 2020

As we focus on getting kids safely back to school this year, Nashville-area builders are trying to figure out how to limit the impact of potential future pandemic years down the road, which may require permanently changing the look of new schools, offices, and hospitals.

"Yes, we are definitely seeing clients ask questions," said Matthew Griffith, an architect with Gould Turner Group.

"Things like the materials we specify, how cleanable they are, rounded corners in rooms and antimicrobial surfaces," Griffith said.

Griffith says with the thought of a future pandemic in mind — segmented spaces could be the norm for new schools.

"I think you will see a big focus on true flexible space, have demountable partitions and movable walls to where it can be segmented or more individualized on an as-needed basis," Griffith said.

And that idea extends beyond school buildings. Griffith says the same can apply to hospitals and other office spaces.

"I think it's going to be common in a lot of designs to have dedicated spaces for temperature checks and things of that nature," Griffith said.

A large building's heating and cooling system will likely be a large focus, according to Griffith. Rather than circulating air throughout the whole building, individual units may be able to keep the air within smaller areas in case of an outbreak.

Schools have been through similar kinds of building trends before. In the early 2000s, it was all about security and hindering active shooters. Just like those changes, Griffith says COVID-19 will likely leave its mark on big building blueprints.

WTVF's Jason Lamb first reported this story.