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Moving Forward: New Spaces in Response to COVID-19 Fall 2020

The following document presents the latest updates on SITU’s recent COVID-19 response projects in education, healthcare & public sectors. Additional relevant projects of alternative and outdoor learning spaces are included for reference.


About SITU


COVID-19 Response Projects


Front Porch for Urban Schools


Re-opening Libraries


Walk-Through Testing Booths


Education Solutions Collaborative


Ideas for Alternative Learning Spaces


SITU is an unconventional architecture practice that uses design, research and fabrication for creative and social impact.

Designing for COVID-19


Our practice is composed of three divisions—Studio, Research and Fabrication—that work collaboratively while providing individual capabilities and services. This keeps prototyping, research and development, and hands-on craft elemental to our creative process.

Designing for COVID-19


Select Clients Education



Geospatial Research

Designing for COVID-19


Select List of Services Space Planning Learning space capacity assessment Programming & feasibility studies Circulation & wayďŹ nding Campus planning

Safety Protocols Entry & exit solutions Social distance planning Hygienic design HVAC coordination

Learning Innovation Tools for blended in-person and digital learning Collaboration space design Outdoor classroom & pavilion design MEP & infrastructure coordination

Implementation In-house prototyping, fabrication & installation Construction administration Post occupancy analysis

Designing for COVID-19


COVID-19 Response Projects Front Porch for Urban Schools Re-opening Libraries Walk-In Testing Booths Education Solutions Collaborative

Front Porch for Urban Schools In collaboration with healthcare & education professionals, we developed a "Front Porch" that re-imagines the school's entrance to make space for socially distant queuing and health checks before students, sta and parents enter the building. Our work was incorporated into the school’s facility planning guide and toolkit.

Client: Brooklyn Lab Charter School Collaborators: WXY, Urban Projects Collaborative, Urban Umbrella Location: Brooklyn, NY Date: Summer 2020 Front Porch installation at Jay & Sands Street

Designing for COVID-19


Project goals In this project, we developed a practical and universally adaptable solution to enable a safer return to school: ● ● ● ● ● ●

Providing a safe and sheltered entry space Messaging new safety protocols clearly and consistently Respectfully extending the school presence into the public realm Welcoming students, family, and staff back to school Establishing an efficient arrival schedule Considering the needs of all students

Our strategy was centered on making the arrival volume more manageable, once health checks and social distancing were taken into account.

BLCS in Dumbo occupies floors 2-7 accessed via stairs on the ground level. The building is shared with other tenants, including commercial offices and restaurants.

Designing for COVID-19


Getting students in the building safely We studied the sidewalk capacity and designed a canopy system to provide shelter for students as new safety protocols are administered. We proposed dividing up the student population into cohorts with staggered arrival times to streamline the arrival process.


Canopy Student (6’ Dist.) Staff (6’ Dist.) Special Needs Route Student Entry




Translucent porch roof creates a naturally well-lit space below, while LED lighting provides visibility after sunset

Site plan with sheltered queues, two points of entry, and an additional “fast lane” for special needs students.

Designing for COVID-19


Organizing safety protocols upon arrival We worked with school staff and medical experts to formulate the entry protocols and minimize the time needed to get students into the building.

2 Queue managers 1 Door supervisor 3 Wellness check / Nurse 6 Total staff per entrance

We organized a successful run-through with school staff to get their feedback on the process. This photo shows the entry to the greeting station. Photo by Urban Umbrella.

Queueing plan at Sands Street entrance

Designing for COVID-19


The Front Porch—a kit-of-parts system The modular kit-of-parts is easily deployable for a variety of site conditions, easily permitted and quick to install.

Screens & partitions



Privacy and artwork opportunities; Filtered natural light & student artwork

Traffic and pedestrian control; Planters, benches, and jersey barriers

Lighting, acoustics, heaters, sanitizing stations and trash cans.


Greeting station


Urban Umbrella System

Check-in, temperature check

Mobile and fixed signage on structure, ground and additional surfaces

Designing for COVID-19


New outdoor learning spaces Outdoor space can also be adapted to host classes and other school programs. Shading, lighting, and heaters help to keep the space comfortable throughout the day and much of the year. Mezzanine railing

Planter barriers School identity signage


Greeting station

Translucent roof



Student artwork

Sanitation stations

Section at Sands Street Front Porch. The structure provides shelter from the elements. Planters add a splash of greenery to the space while protecting students from traďŹƒc. Designing for COVID-19


A welcoming return to school The Front Porch presents an opportunity for the school to project its presence to the community and create a vibrant, welcoming space for students and families.

Rendered view of the ďŹ nal Front Porch design at Sands Street, including sidewalk graphics, student artwork, planters, and school branding. Designing for COVID-19


Photograph by Urban Umbrella

Re-opening Libraries We developed a range of short-term strategies to help keep patrons and sta safe and adapt to new logistical challenges as libraries begin to open their doors across Brooklyn. Bushwick Red Hook Central Flatbush

Bay Ridge

New Lots

Kings Highway

Client: Brooklyn Public Library Location: Brooklyn, NY Date: Summer 2020 While our work focused on the ďŹ rst few branches to open, the strategy was designed to be deployable across the borough. Designing for COVID-19


Addressing unique conditions The Brooklyn Public Library has begun to implement a phased re-opening plan. When the project began, select branches were open only for book drop-off and online hold pickup — both of which occurred in branch lobbies. The goal of this study was to plan for bringing the public into the ground floor of the library branches for book browsing, reading areas, and reference desk. Flatbush

Bay Ridge

New Lots

Kings Highway


Phasing plans of a few of the first wave of branches to reopen, showing Step 3 (Lobby), Step 4 (limited ground floor access), and Step 5 (limited second-floor access). Designing for COVID-19


Design guidelines In addition to basic distancing and signage required for staff and patron safety, the design of other specific library functions needed to be prioritized and supported, such as the ability to safely communicate at the reference desk, and the new procedures for book circulation.



Social distancing & shielding ● ●

Distance program areas & pedestrian traffic Protection for face-to-face transactions

Signage: Messaging & wayfinding ●

Establish new rules

Provide wayfinding

Reduce anxiety

Speech acoustics ●

Enable face-to-face conversation

Maintain low speech levels

Distributed checkout / Drop-off ●

Support new logistics and quarantine workflows

Designing for COVID-19


Rethinking circulation Staff

We studied ways to encourage social distancing as patrons move through the library interior, including at key touch-points such as reading tables and check-out kiosks.

Staff Access Only


No Public Access

Patron touch-points

Patron circulation




Laptop Loan



High capacity mobile shelving holds, checkout & drop-off items

Drop Drop

Kings Highway Branch exterior

Kings Highway Branch circulation plan

Designing for COVID-19


Adapting the reference desk One of the main areas of concern is the reference desk, where patrons and librarians have face-to-face interactions. We designed physical barriers to protect both while still allowing for exchange of objects and enabling conversation.

Clear transaction barrier

Acoustic barrier

Window or grommet for physical transfer of small items (library cards, receipts)

Designing for COVID-19


New safety protocols with a kit-of-parts system We proposed a modular approach that could be deployed quickly and cost-effectively across many library branches.


Stanchions & signage

Countertop screen

Floor screen

Outdoor equipment

Queuing, distancing, wayfinding, instructional signage

Shielding, pass-through, talk-ports

Shielding/distancing, acoustics, signage

Canopy shade, rain cover



Mobile shelving

Folding table

Floor graphics


Holds, checkout, drop-off

Mobile work surface

Wayfinding, social distancing

Disinfection stations, mask distribution, instructional signage Designing for COVID-19


Walk-Through Testing Booths In collaboration with local testing organizations, hospitals and government agencies, we developed a screening booth for COVID-19 testing. Lightweight and quickly deployable, the booth facilitates safe walk-through testing while better protecting healthcare workers.

Collaborator: ARUP Location: New York, NY Date: Summer 2020 One of the booth prototypes docked with a medical COVID-19 testing tent for a demonstration run

Designing for COVID-19


Distributed screening strategy Within the neighborhoods with the highest number of cases, many existing sites can be designated for these “walk-through” (vs. drive-through) care centers. These smaller sites could better serve their immediate populations that are often at a lower income level and depend on public transportation to get to testing sites.

Elmhurst Hospital


Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights

Positive coronavirus tests (Data source: NYC Dept of Health-10 April 2020, © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap)

10 minute walking radius

Proposed testing site

Background image: ZoLa New York City’s Zoning & Land Use Map

Designing for COVID-19


Safer testing sites Each patient testing booth is equipped with an interactive window that physically separates the medical practitioners from the patients. in In order to best support workflows of different medical teams - these interactive windows can be customized with multiple PPE and medical equipment components, such as gloves, iris ports, talk-through ports, stethoscopes, etc. The testing booth can support various configurations of COVID-19 testing tents.

Physical separation of medical practitioners from patients - significantly reduces PPE usage.

Sample collection from a patient using built-in gloves within the interactive window.

Designing for COVID-19


Flexibility for dierent sites The modular design can be adapted for outdoor and indoor spaces in each neighborhood, from parks to health clinics.

Individual booths can be deployed as standalone kiosks or can plug into larger testing sites to better separate patients from sta.

Designing for COVID-19


Indoor testing centers Indoors, the Patient Screening Booth system can transform and supplement existing health facilities to safely expand their testing capacity—and other non-medical locations can also be considered to maximize community reach.

Medical Professional space has supplemental HVAC to provide positive air pressure

12� gap at the top of divider may simplify or eliminate permitting process

At these interior sites, the design is adapted to comply with local building regulations to ensure safe and rapid deployment.

Testing stations placed along room divider system Signage and wayďŹ nding throughout to guide visitors and facilitate social distancing

Intake and circulation diagram utilizing Patient Ports with temporary room dividers

Designing for COVID-19


Understanding throughput Arup developed this in-progress pedestrian model of the testing facility, using the “proximity analysis” feature from the MassMotion development team to indicate where and how long people break social distancing. This analysis is used both to understand the potential throughput of patients and to refine the queuing approach and overall flow to maximize social distancing and patient comfort.

First model layout: Higher probability of close encounters

Pedestrian model of a testing site with 8 booths and 4 registration stations. Watch the full animation and its alternate view.

Updated model layout

Designing for COVID-19



COVID-19 Testing in Urban Spaces | July 31, 2020

Education Solutions Collaborative Schools at all levels—from primary school to higher ed—are facing the overwhelming challenge of how to educate effectively during the pandemic. In order to ease the burden, we teamed up with a select group of design, technology, engineering and construction experts to help institutions create successful and safetydriven strategies for in-person and remote learning in the year ahead. More information here.

Collaborators: Colliers Project Leaders, Infinite Consulting Corp., JFK&M Consulting Group, TEECOM, Via Collective, WXY Completion: Ongoing One of the Collaborative’s offerings is a Solutions Report, which details comprehensive solutions tailored to each institution’s situation. Designing for COVID-19


Project team The Collaborative is made up of leaders from different industries and the approach is tailored to an institutions unique site and approach to back to school planning. Working together, the specific knowledge and proven experience of each team members is applied to a campus’s complex challenges in a holistic way.

Team Leadership Jessica Moreno, Associate Director Colliers Project Leaders

Travis Williams, Senior Estimator Infinite Consulting Group

Michael Jacob, Partner JFK&M Consulting Group LLC

Basar Girit, Partner SITU

Maria Gonzalez, Principal, Senior Consultant TEECOM

Katie Osborn, Principal and Wayfinding Strategist Via Collective

Adam Lubinsky, Principal WXY

Designing for COVID-19


Focused on core operational questions

Arrival Do major circulation paths allow for social distancing? How do we manage and track visitors to our campus? How can we keep track of overall building occupancy levels during the pandemic? Will reduced elevator capacity impact staffing or schedule for special needs students or others?


Education Delivery


Is our school building{s} HVAC system compliant with CDC guidelines?

How can technology help remote students feel more engaged during the classroom sessions?

When a building occupant gets sick, how do we get them proper care while preserving the health of those around them?

Will our existing Wi-Fi network support the intended AV, security, and device connectivity needs? How do we create outdoor learning spaces and anticipate the usage of non-traditional classrooms? How do we make bathrooms and entryways a contactless experience?

How can we adapt nontraditional learning spaces— like gyms, auditoriums, and libraries—to serve the core educational curriculum? What additional accommodations must be made for students with special needs?

What type of other wellness spaces are needed for mental health/guidance and other illness or injury? Where should we locate these space(s) on our campus?

Construction Any requirements for contractor labor? Open shop vs prevailing wage vs union? Is there a capital budget, grant or raised funds for these solutions? Who are the other project stakeholders to be considered? What times are allowable for noisy work? What are the neighborhood sensitivities?

Designing for COVID-19


Ideas for Alternative Learning Spaces The following pre-COVID projects embody several strategies for alternative learning spaces—including outdoor campuses, reconfigurable classrooms and strategies for entry and circulation—that are relevant to the current challenges of school re-opening.

Making Space Making Space is a nimble yet performancedriven approach for updating library facilities for new uses. We developed a kit-of-parts system to increase the exibility and impact of community rooms in branches across Brooklyn. While this project was initiated before the pandemic, the strategies we developed here will help libraries evolve as their community spaces begin to reopen to the public. More on this project here.

Client: Brooklyn Public Library Location: Brooklyn, NY Date: 2018 Community room at the Flatbush Branch

Designing for COVID-19


Expanded programs, limited space Public libraries host an astonishing array of programs, many of which are not well-suited to the buildings in which they occur. We conducted an extensive discovery exercise with library staff in order to understand their needs and priorities.

BPL’s “DiscoTech” events introduce kids of all ages to new and engaging technologies, like robotics and virtual reality.

Select list of library programs

Designing for COVID-19


Kit-of-parts for multipurpose classrooms We designed a set of components that could be deployed across BPL’s branches to address each one’s specific needs.

Designing for COVID-19


Reconfigurability with minimal staff involvement Rolling out this kit at the Flatbush pilot branch has made a “tremendous difference”, according to Negla Parris, the Neighborhood Library Supervisor. The intervention has had an immediate impact on operations, with library staff remarking on the ease and versatility of the new set-up as they host programs, sometimes simultaneously, for visitors of different age groups.

The low storage cabinets easily double as extra seating for group activities, like video game night.

The mobile sign & wall become a quick display board for classes and meetings.

Designing for COVID-19


Classroom layout

Teen Cooking Classes Job Readiness Classes

The same space can be configured in different ways for different activities.

Pre-GED/GED Prep Classes ESOL Classes + Workshops

Mobile tables form a more traditional classroom setup and can be easily moved for social distancing. Power drops down to the tables from the overhead grid.

Language Classes Citizenship Test Classes

Designing for COVID-19


Multi-use layout

Individual Work Space Group Work Space

Acoustic curtains and mobile partitions enable one large space to be divided for small group work.

Teen Tech/Video Games TeleStory Computer/Digital Training

Designing for COVID-19


Performance layout

Rehearsal Space Auditions

Stacking chairs can be conďŹ gured in a traditional auditorium layout or moved apart for social distancing. Low cabinets form a stage. Tunable lighting sets the ambiance, and lights and speakers are clamped onto the overhead grid.

Exhibition Space

These are just a few examples of how the kit can be used to enable a wide range of functions.

Performance Support Space/Dressing Room

Performance Space Event Space

Designing for COVID-19


Activation Brooklyn Public Library


Brooklyn Public Library Making Space

Design Lab At the New York Hall of Science, we designed and built a series of freestanding learning pavilions to inspire and engage kids in hands-on STEM activities. The pavilions are designed to keep students focused, aid facilitators in leading activities and enable all types of learners to feel comfortable—three key requirements for learning in an open-air setting. Learn more about the project here.

Client: New York Hall of Science Location: Queens, NY Size: 11,000 sq ft Completion: 2014 Each of the 6 pavilions is designed for a speciďŹ c type of STEM activity. The Sandbox enables groups of kids to collaborate on building large structures, while the Treehouse is for egg drops and other activities exploring aerodynamics and gravity. Designing for COVID-19


L+: Re-envisioning Branch Libraries Many schools are currently turning to alternative learning environments—such as underutilized storefronts and outdoor spaces—to alleviate space constraints. In this project, we considered how to adapt such spaces across New York City for expanded library programming. We created a kit-of-parts system to adapt non-traditional spaces for reading rooms, maker spaces, classrooms and more. A similar approach could help schools expand classrooms to new settings as well. Learn more about the project here.

Client: Brooklyn Public Library Location: Brooklyn, NY Pop-up reading room and lecture space at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Designing for COVID-19


New York Tech Office Flexibility and integrating remote with in-person workflows were the primary drivers behind the design of this New York office. Like a school, the space needed to be flexible to support a variety of different types of activities, a fast-paced workflow, and frequent changes in team size. An array of technologyintegrated tools throughout the space enable productive worksessions among colleagues even when some are not physically present in the office. Learn more about the project here.

Collaborators: Stantec, Thienes & Levent, Tri-Lox, Renfro Design Group Location: New York City Size: 40,000 sq ft Completion: 2016 Mobile partition including video conferencing system, presentation screen, removable pin-up boards, and whiteboard with camera capture. Designing for COVID-19


Jet Propulsion Laboratory Cloud Pavilion Modifying school facilities presents an opportunity for administrators to communicate their values about learning, safety and community, as well as get students excited about returning to school. In this project, we designed this pavilion to serve as an iconic landmark for the JPL campus, broadcasting its values and mission to the public.

Client: Jet Propulsion Laboratory Location: Pasadena, CA Size: 3,000 sq ft Completion: 2021 (estimated) The Cloud Pavilion serves as a place for meeting, working, and socializing for the 6,000 employees that work on campus, as well as the thousands of visitors it hosts throughout the year. Designing for COVID-19


Solar Canopy This modular, practical canopy—originally designed for rooftops—is adaptable for a variety of site conditions, including outdoor learning spaces. Photovoltaic panels mount to the top of the prefabricated aluminum structure, providing power as well as shading. Nearly 100 have been installed across Brooklyn and Queens. Learn more about the project here.

Client: Brooklyn Solar Works Location: New York City Completion: 2016

Designing for COVID-19


Bay Area Tech Campus This campus was designed to cultivate a sense of community—an important consideration for distance learning. At its heart is a courtyard and pergola connecting the social spaces of the campus. These dynamic exterior spaces provide opportunities not only for eating, ďŹ tness and other social activities, but also provide functional exterior spaces for working, learning and meeting.

Location: Sunnyvale, CA Collaborators: VITAL, Devcon Size: 400,000 sq ft Completion: 2022 (estimated) Four buildings frame the central courtyard.

Designing for COVID-19


The JACX Amenity Terrace We designed this outdoor terrace as a dynamic multi-purpose space, supporting an array of dierent programs throughout the day, such as events, ďŹ tness classes, socializing, and quiet individual work. Flexible, open spaces of various sizes enable larger gatherings of people, while smaller nooks provide a sense of privacy for individual and small group meetings. The terrace is designed as a fully functional exterior work environment, including power, shading, and shelter. Learn more about the project here.

Client: Tishman Speyer Collaborators: MdeAS, HMWhite Location: Queens, NY Size: 1 acre Completion: 2020 Cafe and outdoor seating area. Photo courtesy of HMWhite.

Designing for COVID-19


Brooklyn Museum Visitor Experience As schools welcome their students back, entryways will be critical for the success of the reopening process. In this project, we re-imagined the Brooklyn Museum’s lobby as a vibrant, flexible space, belonging both to the museum and to the public it serves. We focused on rethinking pedestrian traffic and wayfinding to make the lobby easier to navigate and designed a collection of mobile, powered furniture components to enable a vibrant array of programming. Learn more about the project here.

Client: Brooklyn Museum Collaborators: ARUP, MTWTF Location: Brooklyn, NY Size: 21,000 sq ft Completion: 2015 Mobile powered benches provide a quiet space for museum-goers as well as the public to sit. The benches and ticket kiosks can be moved out of the way for concerts, events, and third-party rentals. Photo: John Muggenborg. Designing for COVID-19


Thank you! For questions and comments, please contact: Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, Partner, aleksey@situ.nyc

Designing for COVID-19


Profile for SITU

Moving Forward: New Spaces in Response to COVID-19  

Developed in response to COVID-19, these SITU projects create new solutions and spaces for a range of sectors, such as education, healthcare...

Moving Forward: New Spaces in Response to COVID-19  

Developed in response to COVID-19, these SITU projects create new solutions and spaces for a range of sectors, such as education, healthcare...

Profile for situ_