March 4, 2021
“No one needs reminding that we are smack-dab in the middle of an historic pandemic. Perhaps you are reading this from your dining table workstation, taking a "bio-break" from an hours-long Zoom call, or fixing your children's lunch before all hell breaks loose.”
-The Forge Craft White Paper, “See You Soon, IRL”
We are rightfully normalizing many of the comforts we now enjoy in the work from home (WFH) environment, in large part thanks to technology. But there are many other inadvertent behaviors that are in fact detrimental to our mental and social health as well as our urban fabric; these should be identified and improved as we look toward the “next normal.”
This White Paper, provided at the link, provides examples of architectural design for our shared urban and social environment, introducing compelling arguments for expanding our “social bubble” to include our “work bubble” as we safely push ourselves back toward each other. Even though it may not feel comfortable at first, it can be done safely and responsibly. More importantly, downtown Austin is depending on us, all of us, to survive. Easy Tiger, Second Kitchen, Sway, and Alamo Drafthouse are all leaving downtown because we are simply no longer there.
When our public spaces suffer, so do we all. At this point in the pandemic, our downtown urban environment is sicker than we are. What is the downtown we want to experience when we come back to the office? Will we embrace it or regret it? Will we want to stay downtown and enjoy it?
How do we return to the downtown office effectively in the Post-Covid world? How can our physical office spaces perform better for our employees, now that most of the “heads-down” work can be accomplished from home? It is our hope that, as stakeholders, we can all contribute to this important conversation together, shaping the future of the Office and of Downtown Austin as a community center and economic hub, resilient enough to survive this and any other future pandemic.
-- Forge Craft Architecture are a collective of Architects designing for Humans. Our work in affordable housing informs our work in public and commercial spaces, and vice versa. We advocate, above all, for equitable and successful urban environments through creative design and dogged advocacy for public policy that reflects the aspirations of our local communities, which include RECA, AIA, Downtown Austin Alliance and the Austin Creative Alliance.