Michael Palmer
Managing Principal
Perkins & Will, Chicago

Now more than ever, urban dwellers are concerned about how the built environment of their beloved cities can continue to support and improve upon the long-standing goals of beneficial human health and comfort. This “human experience” in building and urban districts is increasingly being discussed by building owners, developers, architects, designers, and builders as critical design priorities in the post-COVID-19 urban environment. How can the design of vertical buildings and dense urban districts be re-focused now to meet the higher prioritization of these goals? Current strategies discussed through case studies include increased natural ventilation inside buildings, incorporation of exterior spaces in above-ground levels of tall buildings, and the use of healthy building materials. Additionally, how the latest holistic sustainable design strategies for energy-efficiency, building performance, low-carbon, materials usage, resiliency principles, and behavioral techniques of WELL can improve the building user experience are examined. In-built resource conscious design interventions are also reviewed, such as self-shading façades, mass-timber framing, photovoltaics, water-demand reduction, resilient emergency power and water, and others. Beyond design, community engagement during both urban planning and building design can foster more successful outcomes for all stakeholders, and updated methods, such as virtual engagement tools, are reviewed in this context.