Principal FAIA, ALA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, South Carolina
Library staff can refer to best practices from adjacent building types to respond to crisis events. Moreover, a comprehensive response will consider the ways that facility needs evolve after the initial crisis.
When safety threats were an acute concern after 9/11, new multidisciplinary protocols minimized an organization’s security risk. The same concept holds true for a pandemic. An integrated, proactive, and sensitive approach addresses design, systems, and procedures in tandem. Because the highest threat of infection occurs indoors, libraries will need to develop an approach to maximize occupant safety to fulfill their mission as a vibrant, welcoming community resource.
Decades of research and evidence support the value of ventilation, air quality and moisture to occupant health. Now, we call upon these elements to help guard against infectious disease threats. Using “The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building” published by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the IWBI’s (International WELL Building Institute) WELL Building Standard, we can make design and systems decisions that are fiscally justifiable and have proven health outcomes.
We also take design cues from healthcare environments, which are designed to mitigate the risk of disease spread. Strategies like racetrack circulation paths and decentralized nurses’ stations are easily applied to a library layout. Upfitting library interiors with healthcare grade finishes that can withstand more diligent cleaning practices also maximizes the longevity of the building. Delineating HVAC zones of positive and negative pressure reduce the opportunity for contaminants to spread through the air. These healthcare industry techniques can be applied to any building type.
In addition to mitigating physical risks, successful library facilities must also reconcile behavioral paradigm shifts that result from the COVID-19 crisis. We will explore case studies that illustrate the incorporation of emerging library trends dovetailed with infection prevention design strategies. These examples also support the growing library movements towards accessibility, adaptability and embracing people-centric spatial solutions.
A layered approach of design, systems, and procedure solutions is key to optimizing the health of our built environments. There are proven solutions, that with the right amount of attention to detail and stakeholder consensus, can creatively solve the challenges brought to light by COVID-19.
recognize strategies and best practices from adjacent building types and multidisciplinary approaches that mitigate risk of infectious disease spread and consider adaptations in their own facility.
assess their existing facility and determine areas where temporary and long-term adjustments can be made to mitigate the risk of infectious disease spread while maintaining service, operational, and modernization goals.
evaluate established and emerging library trend drivers for compatibility with behavioral paradigm shifts resulting from the COVID-19 crisis in the built environment and develop tangible, prioritized, goals for facility transformation.
demonstrate, to various stakeholder groups (staff, patrons, board members), the importance of applying a balanced solution of design, systems and procedural considerations for optimizing building health.