April 13, 2020
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Javits Center. Photo: javitscenter via Wikimedia Commons.
Javits Center. Photo: javitscenter via Wikimedia Commons.

Architects across New York City are applying their design, problem-solving, and technological expertise to support those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve pulled together a brief roundup below of how AIA New York members and other professional leaders in the architecture industry are collaborating on healthcare facilities and the production of personal protection equipment (PPE). Learn more about how architects can get involved in other COVID-19 initiatives here.

Healthcare Facilities

Di Domenico + Partners has developed design and construction build-out services for medical facilities at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to transition the facility into a temporary hospital, as directed by Governor Cuomo.

In collaboration with a broader community of manufacturers, inventors and makers, SITU is mobilizing their design and fabrication capabilities to support the city’s ongoing relief efforts. In partnership with an NYC-based hospital, the firm is prototyping patient screening booths. A transparent partition with sealed glove penetrations allows medical practitioners to examine patients while minimizing their exposure and limiting the amount of PPE required. SITU has also created an affordable and easily assembled face shield based on the model proposed by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

HKS is developing conceptual plans to rapidly convert hotels, schools, and other venues into patient care facilities.

An international task force of designers, engineers, medical professionals, and military experts are collaborating on CURA Pods (Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments), an open-source project aimed at capacity building intensive care units out of repurposed shipping containers.

AIA’s COVID-19 taskforce, in collaboration with the Kansas University Institute of Health + Wellness, has developed the COVID-19 ArchMap, which provides information on healthcare facilities to help identify solutions to bed surge needs and develop best practices for alternative care sites.


Operation PPE, coordinated by the Architecture, Art and Planning faculty and the Engineering faculty at Cornell University in collaboration with architecture firms, is manufacturing 3D-printed face shields to protect hospital workers. Many architects are basing their visors on open-source files created by Erik Cederberg of 3DVerkstan, which consists of a laser-cut plastic shield and a printed visor band. Firms involved in printing shields include BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, edg, Grimshaw, Handel Architects, Höweler + Yoon, Jenny Sabin Lab, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Terreform One, and Weiss Manfredi.

Other university architecture and design schools across the Northeast are also offering up production and manufacturing services to create PPE in a variety of resourceful ways. Columbia GSAPP, the Cooper Union, Harvard GSD, NJIT, NYIT, Parsons, Princeton, and Yale are also working to 3D print face shields or distribute production files, and many are also donating existing PPE to hospitals. At Parsons, fashions students are hard at work sewing facemasks. NJIT is also building a prototype of a self-contained ICU unit.

BIG has adapted and optimized to print as many as 5,000 visors a week in-house. BIG has also generated a “plug-and-play” G-Code for dual extrusion Ultimaker printers, and have made the code, along with their stacked .stl files, available for public use.



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