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COVID-19 forces architects to rethink designs amid requests for touch-free amenities

Posted at 7:54 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 20:54:41-04

MILWAUKEE — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced architects to rethink at how they design buildings. As a result, it’s creating big business for companies that specializes in creating hygienic systems, including one in the Milwaukee area.

Within this new normal, Chad Griswold, a partner and architect at Rinka in Milwaukee, realized that he couldn't design a structure like he used to. Instead, he had to find ways to encourage social distancing and minimize cross-contamination within a project.

“What slight configurations do we need to change in order to make it a more healthy building?” said Griswold.

With R1ver, a multi-use campus that’s currently under construction in the Harbor District, that meant installing an advanced air filtration system that filers contagions and viruses, maintaining access to the outdoors and spacing inside and looking into no or low-contact systems.

“Looking at building automation technology that can help avoid touching things like light switches,” Griswold said.

Some of those no-touch, clean touch systems are developed by the Milwaukee company, Purleve.

Owner Todd Muderlak said demand is through the roof for all of their automatic products, from toilet handles to faucets, and soap, sanitizer and paper towel dispensers.

“The phone calls, ringing probably 10,000 times more than it did before,” Muderlak said.

However, the increase is much greater for their hygienic door handle, which was actually created more than 10 years ago.

“Where it was a luxury perhaps three months ago, it's become almost a requirement,” Muderlak said.

The door handle is wrapped in a hygienic sleeve that hasn’t been touched, and when you pull it, it automatically dispenses a new sleeve.

Businesses are wanting these handles for any kind of space, whether its apartment complexes, schools, offices, or restaurants, with some asking to reconfigure the shape and size of the product for their needs.

“They're doing it for multiple reasons, to convey a sense of quality and hygiene in their locations but also to help minimize the opportunity for someone to get sick in their facilities,” Muderlak said.

For more information on The Rebound Milwaukee, click here.

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