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Building Safer Businesses In A COVID-19 World

AP Photo/Caleb Jones

With health mandates and viral anxieties in mind, Hawaii businesses are rethinking their physical environments.

Banks and hotels are among the categories of workplaces PBN spoke with this week. Both have public zones where guests or customers interact, as well as substantial back-of-house, employee-only areas. In recent years, most major banks in Hawaii have been on a building and remodeling spree — has the coronavirus caused them to reconsider their designs?

American Savings Bank just moved 650 bank employees into its 11-story, $100 million new headquarters last year. It’s the first new office building built in Honolulu in more than 20 years and planners actually took pandemics into account.

The building features high ceilings that facilitate air circulation and sophisticated HVAC systems that constantly exchange inside air for outside air while using ionization to neutralize bacteria and viruses. Central Pacific Bank meanwhile, in the midst of a $40 million modernization program, is adjusting on the fly, exploring flexible furnishings to facilitate social distancing and even such details as fabric choices with an eye toward easy cleaning.

For hotels, hospitality architects at firms like WATG and G70 foresee changes throughout the buildings, from common areas to guest rooms to landscaping. There will be new expectations, for example, that landscaping not only entices people outside but that it will facilitate separation between groups of guests.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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