It’s still unclear how the current pandemic will shape our future built environments, but workplaces will likely be the first visible front of change. How will the sudden and radical shift in how we work be codified? The pandemic era will not be permanent, but it has forced many to embrace more flexible scheduling, remote working, and the needs of workers in a crisis, from on-site childcare to accommodating those most vulnerable to illness. How can a workplace keep all of its inhabitants safe, from those that keep a building’s essential services running to its office workers and management? And once the pandemic passes, how can the workplace ensure wellness on a more holistic level by promoting physical and mental health.
Steel is an ideal structural system to confront these challenges. It allows for large openings, sunlight and easy airflow, flexible layouts, and innovative approaches to services. Steel can be easily modified during the life cycle of a building to accommodate changing requirements. This competition asks students to move beyond the long-held impetus for a healthy workplace to merely ensure worker productivity, to one where everyone thrives.