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Episode Details


On Thursday, January 14th, the ACEC Research Institute held a roundtable in its Future of Engineering series focused on building density in a post-pandemic world.  Information on future roundtables can be found on the ACEC Research Institute website.

The pandemic has forced us to change the way we live and work. Most office buildings, although designed with open floor plans, have far lower current occupancy rates than pre-pandemic due to employees working remotely and adhering to social distancing guidelines. In addition, traditionally densely occupied buildings, such as urban high rises in the central business district (CBD), healthcare and education, are having exceptional difficulties conducting business as usual. Will this decade become the decade of suburbia? How will existing buildings be retrofitted and new buildings be designed and constructed in the future? Will new occupant density requirements change the economics of real estate investment? This roundtable will address the following areas:

  • How will building designs change in the future, particularly for traditionally densely occupied buildings such as urban high rises in the CBD, healthcare and education?
  • What are the critical design changes needed to ensure occupant safety in the future?
  • How do design considerations differ for urban vs. suburban buildings relative to occupant safety?
  • What is the right balance between high-efficiency and health considerations in buildings? What will employees expect and demand?
  • Will there be greater use of outdoor spaces in the future? What are creative ways to accomplish this in building design?


Sabrina Kanner, EVP, Development, Design and Construction, Brookfield Properties.
Colin Rohlfing, Director of Sustainable Development, HDR.
Kate Wittels, Partner, HR&A Advisorys, Inc.
Moderator: Joseph Bates, ACEC Research Institute.



January 15, 2021

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