The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the recipients of the 2020 COTE Top 10 Awards, just a few short weeks later than normal. Usually synced with Earth Day, the big reveal of this year’s batch of superlatively sustainable projects—all demonstrating “the solutions architects provide for the health and welfare of our communities and planet”—was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis. As is wont with the prestigious COTE Top 10 Awards, the 2020 recipients are a diverse lot and truly run the gamut when it comes to building type, usage, and geographic locale. Just a taste of the winning projects: An adaptive reuse effort in which a defunct Austin, Texas, recycling center that was transformed into an airy creative office space; a distinctive 52-unit affordable housing complex (the only housing project recognized this year) for previously homeless and disabled veterans in Los Angeles’s MacArthur Park neighborhood; and a border crossing facility in the Chihuahuan Desert that’s architecture “serves and respects all people, embraces culture, conserves resources, nurtures ecology, protects habitat, celebrates diversity, and conveys a love of the land.” One winning project, the Environmental Nature Center and Preschool, Newport Beach, California, was singled out for its exceptional, resource-conserving post-occupancy performance data. Gensler made a strong showing and had three total projects recognized. Two are in New York City (Etsy’s Living Building Challenge Petal-certified headquarters in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and a much-praised overhaul of the Ford Foundation’s landmark modernist Manhattan headquarters) and the third is the aforementioned adaptive refuse project in Austin. On that note, Texan firm Lake|Flato (no stranger to the COTE Top 10) was also recognized for multiple projects, both of them collaborative efforts: The Austin Central Library and the Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Mississippi. To be eligible for the COTE Top 10 Award, individual project submissions must meet stringent criteria that includes 10 measures such as social, economic, and ecological values, explains a press statement from the AIA. From there, a five-member jury evaluated each project based on the “effectiveness of their holistic design solution and metrics associated with the 10 measures.” The 2020 jury included: Robert Berkebile, FAIA, BNIM Architects; Roy Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects; William Horgan, Associate AIA, Grimshaw; Vivian Loftness, FAIA, Carnegie Mellon University; and Andrea Love, AIA, Payette. Below is the complete list of winning projects. You can learn more about each at the AIA COTE Top 10 Awards website. Austin Central Library, Austin, Texas — Lake|Flato Architects + Shepley Bulfinch Per the jury: “The interior light-filled atrium has become a living room for the city, open to the community and all constituencies; the space is dynamic and offers many opportunities for citizens to find just the right spot to read, study, meet, or work.” U.S. Land Port of Entry, Columbus, New Mexico — Richter Architects Per the jury: “A port of entry is a challenging building type. The designers in this project not only met that challenge, but achieved more by showing us how the architecture of any kind can make human environments healthy and dignified. This is a thoughtful, durable building made to last.” Environmental Nature Center and Preschool, Newport Beach, California — LPA, Inc. Per the jury: “It introduces kids to responsible sustainability at a young age and is a place where people will want to send their children. It does all the right things—water, biophilia, resilience, and strong material choices.” Etsy Headquarters, New York — Gensler Per the jury: “Everything about the inhabitants, the building, and the use of the space are involved in the investment in sustainability as a way of life. This project is a celebration of health and craft and takes an existing fabric and transforms it into something more rewarding.” Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, New York — Gensler Per the jury: “The new design adds adjustments and changes to its planning that make it more public and equitable. The garden is reestablished as a public oasis that invites the community in, and following the current values of the Ford Foundation, the building makes room for like-minded partners in a more collaborative structure.” John W. Olver Design Building, Amherst, Massachusetts — Leers Weinzapfel Associates Per the jury: “The space is made possible by an innovative wood truss system showing us how to reach beyond the CLT systems to make larger spaces. Its courtyard guarantees views and access to campus to everyone within the building and is well integrated into the larger campus.” Keller Center at the Harris School of Public Policy, Chicago — Farr Associates (design lead and architect of record) and Woodhouse Tinucci Architects (collaborating architect, interior designer) Per the jury: “The opening of the floor plates to create a larger light-filled community atrium makes the interior expansive. This design intervention teaches us an important lesson on how to transform these large floor plate-existing buildings into healthy, desirable, light-filled spaces.” Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi — Lake|Flato Architects in association with Unabridged Architecture Per the jury: “The design team’s thoughtful care shows everywhere. The complex is ordered not by an imposition of a construct of some kind, but by finding sites that create minimal damage and that would be above the flood plain and remain inherently resilient.” The Six, Los Angeles — Brooks + Scarpa Per the jury: “The courtyard makes a public protected space and provides a communal harbor for a vulnerable population. Passive strategies are identified at the building and unit scale. The units are light-filled, and the courtyard provides ventilation.” UPCycle, Austin, Texas — Gensler Per the jury: “The design team here shows us how to make a great, healthy, sustainable, adaptive reuse project within a crazy tight budget.”
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The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the measure the AIA uses to track design services demand, took a dour downturn in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shook economic confidence and locked up job sites—but April’s numbers, released this morning, are much worse. The ABI is a composite number that factors in regional averages, design demand by sector, project inquiries, and existing design contracts. Anything over 50 represents month-over-month growth, anything under is a decrease. In March, billings had dropped to 33.3, the steeped decline ever recorded in the metric’s 25-year history, but in April the ABI slid even further to 29.5. Regionally, the Northeast was predictably hit the hardest, as demand slid to 23.0. The West figures were the strongest at 38.1 (still severe contraction), while the Midwest came in at 31.2 and the South at 31.1. This is unsurprising, as construction, even a month later, remains highly constricted across the U.S. even as some cities have begun tentatively allowing non-essential construction again. Sector-wise, institutional work remained the strongest, as expected, at 36.1, while the commercial and industrial sectors dropped to a paltry 27.8. Multi-family residential projects fell to 30.3, and mixed practice projects came in at 29.0. In March, all four typologies were in the mid-to-low 40s range. Inquiries into new projects, which had dropped to 27.1 in March, rose to 28.4, while the design contracts index remained low at 27.6. “With the dramatic deceleration that we have seen in the economy since mid-March,” wrote AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, “it’s not surprising that businesses and households are waiting for signs of stability before proceeding with new facilities. Once business activity resumes, demand for design services should pick up fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the precipitous drop in demand for design services will have lasting consequences for some firms.”
After the American Institute of Architects (AIA) put out its original COVID-19 Alternative Care Sites Assessment Tool at the beginning of April, the tool is getting both a second version and is now being distributed around the world. The assessment survey was designed as an easy way for non-professionals and those without healthcare or emergency adaptive reuse experience to select sites suitable for “alternative care sites” for COVID-19 treatment. The second version of the survey, available here, was refined with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, according to the AIA, as well as other government agencies and practical feedback from healthcare workers. The new version of the assessment tool is also being translated and distributed internationally thanks to the United States Department of State. Now versions of the survey in Spanish, French, and Portuguese will be made available to embassies around the world for local use. The 13-page survey presents tips and requirements for not only scouting eligible sites to convert, but how to monitor care sites 24/7, care for patients at every stage of COVID-19’s progression, and how to address vulnerable economic and ethnic populations that would make use of such care sites.
Former AIA National president and NewSchool of Architecture & Design president Marvin Malecha, FAIA, passed away on May 4 at the age of 70. Malecha was born June 26, 1949, and after receiving his bachelor’s of architecture from the University of Minnesota and his master’s of architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, quickly became a mainstay of architectural education. In 1976, Malecha became the dean of the College of Environmental Design at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, a position he would hold for nearly 18 years. After that, Malecha was tapped to lead the College of Design at North Carolina State University, which he did as dean from 1994 to 2015 (and where he designed the North Carolina State University Chancellor’s Residence). During his tenure, Malecha was also nominated president of the AIA in 2009, a rotating, one-year position. After leaving North Carolina State, Malecha returned to the west coast to serve as the president and chief academic officer for the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in downtown San Diego. Malecha would remain in that position from 2016 until his death on Monday from complications related to a recent heart transplant. Malecha was also a prolific author, and his most recent book, Being Creative: Being a Creative, was released in 2015. “This is truly a momentous loss” said Mark Hoversten, the current dean of the College of Design at North Carolina State University, in a statement. “Marvin truly embodied what it meant to be a designer. His values of creative thinking and efficient design have permeated this college, and shaped the values of the students who walk these halls.”
In a somewhat unsurprising turn of events, especially given the special report the AIA released on April 10, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for March 2020 is painting a dire portrait of the state of architectural services demand. Whereas the ABI in February 2020 painted a rosy picture of demand at 53.4 (50 is the baseline and represents no change, higher numbers represent an increase and lower numbers a decrease), March billings came in 33.3. This 20.1 swing is, according to the AIA, the largest downturn ever recorded in the ABI’s 25-year history. Even the 2001 recession only pushed demand down by 9.4 points, while the housing crash in 2008 decreased billings by 8.3 points. Inquiries into new design contracts didn’t fare much better, falling from 52.0 in February to 27.1 in March. Also unsurprising were the regional breakdowns; the Northeast was obviously hit the hardest—falling to 38.4—thanks to construction freezes in New York, Boston, and other major cities. The Midwest and South both fell to 44.2, while the Western states saw the lowest drop, with billings only dropping to 45.3. Industry-wise, contrary to what one would first assume given the dour predictions on the housing market from last month’s HDTS Special Report, residential design demand, falling to 43.3, didn’t actually fare the worst. Institutional projects, typically where firms gravitate towards during times of uncertainty due to their long timescales and stability of their clients, fell to 46.9, while commercial and industrial projects fell to 41.9. The firms surveyed by the AIA painted accordingly less-than-optimistic pictures of their future operations. Most of them are cutting back on expenses to deal with the slowdown in work and uncertainty about the global economy: 53 percent of firms have put a hiring freeze in place, while an additional 15 percent are thinking about one, while 32 percent reported freezing staff salaries, and another 12 percent has cut them. According to the AIA, on average, firms expect revenue to drop 17 percent over the next three months. Overall, 36 percent of the firms surveyed “predict that it will have a serious to devastating impact,” which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. We’ll have to wait for the April ABI to be released for a more detailed prognosis, but in the meantime, the AIA has assembled a business continuity guide to help firms navigate the post-COVID-19 landscape.
To put it lightly, the COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated more than just a passing hiccup in the daily business operations of architecture firms large and small. While the long-term implications of the deadly viral outbreak on the business of designing buildings have yet to be fully grasped, the immediate fallout has been nothing short of rollercoaster-like. Yet for most practices, things are very much businesses as usual albeit with major alterations, particularly with regard to workflow and staffing. To help firms more smoothly navigate these turbulent and unpredictable times, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released a comprehensive Architect’s Guide to Business Continuity. Geared to help guide firms through a wide range of “adverse business conditions” including for example, global pandemics, the 50-plus-page guide provides insight into how to broach a variety of crucial areas—staff management, supply chains, technology, stakeholders, all-important reputation—with minimal disruption. The guide identifies, elaborates on, and offers guidance on how to respond to a range of potentially business-disrupting hazards including natural ones (sea-level rise, wildfires, drought, and other natural phenomena, many of them exacerbated by climate change) as well as anthropogenic hazards and system failures (cyber attacks, terrorism, arson, supply chain disruption, civil unrest, utility interrupt, pandemics, etc). “Firms across the country are facing pressures from all sides—from transitioning offices to teleworking models, to work stoppages, to repositioning their businesses to adapt to changing client needs,” said AIA executive vice president/chief executive officer Robert Ivy, FAIA, in a press statement. “This guide is meant to help firms be nimble during any kind of disruption, whether environmental or manmade. It also should support them in making informed decisions during economic uncertainties so they can be best poised to address the future.” Per a March 23 survey conducted by the AIA, 50 percent of firms polled reported 50 percent fewer projects compared to their expectations entering the month. Eighty-three percent of firms anticipated a decline in revenue for the month—that figure jumps to 94 percent when considering revenue declines in April. The survey also found major shifts in staffing operations with 48 percent reporting—as of March 23—that all employees entire, or almost all employees, were working remotely. Thirty-one percent of firms reported that only some staff had gone into remote work mode. Fifteen percent reported that some staff members were unable to work at all. The AIA is providing a wide range of resources and helpful information to its members during the coronavirus pandemic across a range of areas. In addition to the operations-minded Architect’s Guide to Business Continuity, one notable resource headed by a special AIA task force is a Preparedness Assessment Tool meant to be used to evaluate potential alternative care sites for the treatment and isolation of COVID-19 patients. A collaborative database and complementary COVID19 ArchMap was launched so that architects, designers, engineers, and others can more easily share and compare best practices when establishing alternative care sites. Every Friday, AN’s own Coronavirus Column, penned by managing editor Jack Balderrama Morley, addresses a range of topics on how the pandemic is impacting both the profession of architecture and the built environment as a whole.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has officially canceled its annual conference due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Originally slated to kick off May 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the AIA Conference on Architecture 2020 was postponed in mid-March while the organization mulled rescheduling possibilities for later in the year. Any possibility for a reshuffled event held in L.A. or elsewhere has now, not that surprisingly, been scrapped as the AIA looks ahead to the 2021 conference in Philadelphia instead. The conference joins a growing list of major architecture and design events to be initially postponed or rescheduled for later in 2020 but ultimately canceled or moved to 2021 as the pandemic widened. AIA 2020 president Jane Frederick, FAIA, announced the decision in a press release:
“After carefully monitoring COVID-19 developments, we have determined that we will not be able to reschedule conference given the number of uncertainties we face as a nation in the coming months,” “We believe this decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of our members, colleagues, exhibitors and speakers and out of consideration for all attendees. At this time, we are focusing all of our efforts on assisting our members through these economic uncertainties and supporting their important work in contributing to the COVID-19 response.”The AIA will issue full refunds to attendees for registration fees. More information on the cancelation is available on the AIA 2020 website, and AN will add more to this breaking story as new developments come in.
As part of an ongoing rapid response effort geared to help public officials more easily identify existing buildings that can quickly and safely be modified into makeshift coronavirus screening and treatment facilities, a special task force within the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has officially launched an interactive map to complement its COVID-19 Alternative Care Sites Assessment Tool. Developed in partnership with the Kansas University Institute of Health + Wellness Design, the COVID-19 ArchMap, however, doesn’t just strictly include project information related to conversions, but all COVID-19-related undertakings that are either completed or in-progress, as well as collaborative initiatives launched in response to the pandemic. Per the AIA, the task force developed the map “to help identify solutions to growing bed surge needs and to support the development of design best practices for alternative care sites that support pandemic response.” The map’s functionality is straightforward. To view projects, users can filter by region or by state, by project type (isolation transportation, face shield/mask production, conversion of non-health care spaces, construction of temporary structures, etc.) by category (homeless center, emergency care, screen, support services, non-acute patient care, diagnostic/treatment, etc.) and by conversion type (convention center, motel, gymnasium, arena, vacant warehouse, etc.) To contribute to the map, architects, designers, engineers, and facility owners are asked to complete a Project Information Form including all pertinent details of the project in question. The project/client name can be kept confidential. In addition to a U.S. map, there’s also a global map detailing COVID response projects worldwide. However, the only non-U.S. projects appearing at this time are from Germany, Canada, and Malaysia. Outside of the AIA COVID-19 ArchMap, individual architecture firms continue to share care facility conversion projects—not to mention a heartening and positively huge number of PPE production initiatives—on a larger scale as a means of engaging, inspiring, and showing others how it’s done efficiently and post-haste. Nebraska-based integrated design firm DLR Group, for example, recently shared news that it has converted an earlier educational project, Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western University, into a fully functional 1,000-bed surge hospital for patients suffering from the coronavirus. Designed by Foster + Partners with DLR Group as the architect of record, the building, which features lecture halls, classrooms, study areas, and a large dining hall, was completed just last year.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released its first economic examination of the damage wrought by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the results aren’t great. This morning, the AIA sent out a press release summarizing the findings of their HDTS Special Report, painting a not-so-rosy portrait of the future. “The momentum building in the housing market since the Great Recession,” wrote the AIA, “has completely reversed itself over the course of just a few weeks.” The AIA surveyed a number of firms working on residential projects and found that revenue in March fell on average 15 percent below what was expected, while April revenue projections were on track to come in 20 percent below expectations. Some more key takeaways:
- 70 percent of firms indicate that inquiries for new work declined in March.
- 78 percent of firms have already seen slowing or stoppage of projects.
- Around 90 percent of firms have seen problems with current projects due to COVID-19.
- Most residential firms, about two thirds, indicated that virtually all/majority of their staff are now working remotely.
A number of compounding issues are contributing to the slowdown. State-mandated construction freezes have stopped or slowed most residential projects (some states are allowing affordable housing construction to continue). Supply chains have been disrupted by the pandemic, and building departments have been slowing their approvals as they try to make the transition to working digitally. Of course, looming large over the heads of developers and homeowners alike is the potential of an extended economic recession that could linger well after social isolation orders have been lifted. With unemployment growing to unprecedented levels and the stock market undergoing roller coaster-like peaks and valleys on a daily basis, many prospective clients are putting a hold on future projects. As the AIA also noted in the special report, firms with a focus on residential projects have thus far been hit the hardest; only 13 percent on non-residential-focused studios faced losses of 25 percent or higher in March. However, that may soon change as well as even institutional projects, long stalwarts for firms looking for stability, get placed on hold or canceled. New York City, for example, recently halted all public design work as it deals with the gaping hole coronavirus has blown in the budget. As noted in a recent AIANY town hall, this sort of cost-cutting measure didn’t happen even at the height of the 2008 recession, as the city tried to buoy architects with public work.
- Residential firms anticipate accelerated revenue losses in April, with almost 70 percent expecting losses of 10 percent or more for the month relative to their expectations in early March.
As part of a larger response initiative first announced in late March, a newly formed task force within the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has launched a new online tool geared to help public officials more easily identify existing buildings that can be potentially converted into makeshift emergency medical facilities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These temporary facilities, which are located in everything from convention centers to hotels and motels to sports arenas and beyond, are being harnessed for either the quarantining/treatment of those infected with the coronavirus or as hospital overflow facilities for non-COVID patients. The COVID-19 Alternative Care Sites Assessment Tool was devised to enable officials without backgrounds in healthcare design or emergency-level adaptive reuse to swiftly evaluate a potential site for compatibility as a what the AIA has deemed an “alternative care site.” Taking the form of a nine-page checklist, the tool—prepared with professional input from healthcare architects, engineers, scientists, front line healthcare workers, designers, and others from relevant fields—melds existing best practice information that applies to non-emergency situations with federal documents that have been issued since the outbreak began in the United States. The ultimate aim of the tool is to guide officials in selecting and adapting sites that support patient care operations, maximize the preservation of life, minimize the risk of spreading the virus along with other pathogens, and other attributes. Off the bat, the checklist identifies basic characteristics of a site that would render it compatible or incompatible as a temporary treatment facility. “Go/No go” building components include age (should be less than 20 years old/built to meet contemporary code requirements); multi-story or residential wood-framing (nope); floor space (there should be a whole lot); municipal water supply (clean water and good water pressure are vital), and power outlets (similar to available floor space, grounded outlets should be ample.) “This tool is geared toward flexible and rapid decision making during a public health pandemic,” said Dr. Molly Scanlon, FAIA, FACHA, an environmental health scientist at Phigenics and chair of the task force, in a statement. “Our goal was to synthesize decades of healthcare knowledge and experience into a checklist reflecting the key essential elements of healthcare operations to reduce risk and increase safety at an alternative care site.” The Los Angeles Convention Center, where the AIA was to hold its annual Conference on Architecture from May 14 through 16, has since been converted into a 100-bed overflow hospital overflow facility by the California National Guard. The launch of the AIA’s rapid response site assessment tool comes on the heels of another helpful resource that encourages architects, engineers, facility managers, and others to share information—project details, photos, etc.—about individual alternative care sites that they’ve had a hand in conceiving. Once this information is loaded into the resource database, it will appear on a map, the COVID-19 ArchMap, produced and maintained by the AIA in partnership with the Institute of Health + Wellness Design at the University of Kansas. The AIA hopes that the information will prove not only helpful to those responding to the current crisis but also serve as a resource for future pandemics.
This afternoon, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) hosted a webinar designed to explain what’s going on in New York City during the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, how resources are being shared with the national chapter, and what architects can do to contribute. In Town Hall: Coping with COVID-19 Together, Barry Bergdoll, president of New York’s Center for Architecture joined Ben Prosky (executive director of AIANY), Jessica Sheridan, (AIA director at-large), and Kim Yao (AIANY 2020 president) to discuss how the chapter is navigating these difficult times (moderated by Kavitha Mathew, AIANY leadership and engagement coordinator). Most of the concerns raised and addressed by participants were practical ones. To start, AIANY staff is now working from home, like many of its members. Because of that, the Center for Architecture is closed for the time being and is working to move lectures and other events online for those who are self-isolating. Their K-12 education programming will also ramp up as well while schools are closed. On the business side, Yao mentioned that they had reached out to 770 firm principals in the last few days—so far AIANY has spoken with over 300 of them and left messages for the rest. Their aim was to see how offices were moving to remote work, how principals and their staff were handling things, and software was being used. As one could probably guess, having to juggle nine-plus hours of Zoom meetings with familial duties, or being stuck home with no human interaction, is wearing thin on morale and many architects are growing increasingly stressed. Compounding that stress is the payment issue; how are architects transitioning to digital checks and wire transfers, while avoiding the fees? Clients have also been slow to send their payments in many of the instances raised by town hall attendees, and the chapter is working to put together resources for getting paid digitally, and may hold a future webinar to help firms apply for local and federal loans in the meantime. Kermit Baker, the national AIA’s chief economist, is also working to put together an economic outlook for early next week to gauge the impact of coronavirus. One elephant in the room, especially for the New York-minded attendees, was Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement this morning shutting down all “non-essential construction” across the state. That means job sites across New York State, except for affordable and homeless housing, hospitals, infrastructure projects, transportation, and power generation, have been shuttered for the time being. If construction sites are closed, will architects working on those projects still get paid? Prosky spoke on how they’re in conversation with the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to make sure firms are paid, but continuing work was an ongoing discussion. While the city was willing to contribute money to public projects during the 2008 recession, this time, it seems, they’re drawing a hard line and may soon start implementing severe cost-cutting measures citywide; the coronavirus crisis has already blown a $15 billion hole in the state’s budget and could cost the city over $6 billion. Still, the chapter noted they would continue to advocate for their members, though many ongoing projects could be scrapped. On a more uplifting note, many of the attendees wanted to know how they could contribute to combatting the spread of coronavirus, and mentioned that Pelli Clarke Pelli and a number of schools had begun 3D printing face shields for medical personnel. The AIA is currently working to coordinate between interested firms to help them more efficiently pool and distribute resources to those who most need them. Managing construction administration and figuring out site visits, students looking for potential internships, and the ramping up of virtual continuing education programs were all touched upon as well, but the meeting was more for members to voice their concerns and let the AIA know where they should focus their attention. The AIANY is coordinating with its neighbors and the national chapter to figure out the best path forward, and in the meantime has put together a resource page for those looking for more support and updates at aiany.org/resources/covid-19-resources/.
On March 19, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) president Jane Frederick and CEO Robert Ivy sent a letter on behalf of the organization to Congress regarding the economic impact that the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, will have on the architecture profession with suggestions for an economic stimulus package. Representing around 95,000 members, making it the largest design organization in the United States, the letter implores Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to provide temporary relief measures for business owners and to make a long-term investment in 21st-century infrastructure. To address the already-felt economic impact of the pandemic on building design and construction, the first initiative requests an investment in Small Business Interruption Loans for businesses under 500 employees. Providing relief in the short run, the letter contends, will allow employers to avoid layoffs while covering costs associated with payroll, rent, and other obligations in the immediate term. “Furthermore,” the letter reads, “the federal government should suspend the collection of business taxes, including payroll tax, for the duration of the pandemic.” The second initiative speaks to both the current needs and future threats facing America’s built environment, including climate change and sea-level rise. “This global pandemic has laid bare the preexisting resource shortage currently facing many of these facilities,” the letter reads. “Looking to the future, the World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that climate change will contribute to worsening storms and more frequent pandemics. Buildings must be resilient in the face of these disasters while also not contributing to the underlying problem by generating greenhouse gas emissions and unhealthy air quality. We must expect more from the built environment than ever before.” The letter estimates that the government should invest a minimum of $300 million over five years towards the construction of resilient and sustainable public buildings. These two measures, the AIA argues, will “provide necessary relief in the short-term, reassurance to global markets, and will help prepare this country for the challenges ahead.” Congress has not yet offered a response. The letter was sent to Congress only four days after the AIA announced that it would postpone its 2020 National Conference in Los Angeles to reduce the spread of coronavirus.