Many different factors contribute to the design of a commercial building and its construction. Though some are purely architectural, some design choices are based on the environment—including learning from past disasters. The first sprinkler systems started showing up in buildings following major fires in the 1800s. The events of 9-11 had an impact on the security design and construction of many buildings. Active shooter scenarios have influenced new school designs. Likewise, many experts predict changes to commercial building design and construction meant to keep building occupants safer in light of COVID-19. Let’s look at a few potential changes. 


Thus far, the primary method of transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus has through respiratory droplets from coughing. Newer data has shown that the coronavirus can also be transmitted via talking or even breathing. Though the use of surgical or cloth face masks has helped offset the spread of such droplets, HVAC systems will also play a role in decontaminating environments from the air and filtering any potential airborne spread from a particular space. 

Fewer Touch Points

Another way COVID-19 is spread is by touching objects or surfaces that have been contaminated and then touching mucus membranes, such as one’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Because of this, some expect to see fewer touch-points in newer commercial buildings. This may mean instituting many more motion-detecting automatic doors and even elevators with voice-recognition technology. In terms of security, code entry touchpads may be replaced by facial-recognition or voice-recognition technology. 

Fewer Open Work Environments

For those who were never fans of open office layouts, you may like this next change. Yes, increased social distancing policies due to COVID-19 will likely cause company executives and designers to rethink open office layouts. As they stand now, most open office spaces place workers less than six feet from one another. Meeting spaces will also require a significant overhaul to remain in compliance if social distancing measures are left in place. Whether executives and office designers return to cubicles or individual offices, it may too earlier to tell. One thing is for sure—changes will need to be made if offices hope to continue functioning in a post-COVID world. 

Fewer Office Buildings Altogether

Beyond the design of commercial buildings and offices, there is a question about the future number of offices that will be constructed going forward. Shelter-in-place orders forced millions of workers to move their workplace from the office to the home, causing many of their employers to navigate the new terrain of remote working for the first time. Companies that may not have otherwise wanted to send workers home were forced to do so. Oddly enough, many of these once-reluctant companies experienced record productivity numbers from their workers who were allowed to work from home. Because of this, some are now allowing employees to permanently work from home if they so choose. Such companies include digital payment system technology company Square as well as Twitter. Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have also discussed offering the option to workers. 

While this move gives workers greater flexibility to work from a place where they are most productive, this will undoubtedly change the demand for commercial office buildings in general. 

What Do You Think? 

How do you think COVID-19 will impact commercial building design and construction? Feel free to let us know in the comments section of the social media platform where you found this article. 

Still Need Commercial Construction Services? 

If COVID-19 hasn’t changed your need for commercial construction in the Greater Tulsa, OK area, look no further than the professionals from Cowen Construction. 

Learn more about Cowen Construction today.