On June 23, 2020, the ULI Washington Young Leaders Group Real Estate 101 Committee hosted a virtual event titled “Building for People: How Human Interactions Influence Building Design.” The event speakers were Siti Abdul-Rahman, Managing Principal at WDG Architecture, and Matthew Bell, Principal at Perkins Eastman. The panel was moderated by Katherine Ferguson, a member of the Real Estate 101 Committee.
The speakers kicked off the discussion by highlighting major events in history that have led to meaningful change in the way buildings and cities are designed. The Great Fire of London led to setback requirements and wider streets; the Cholera outbreak in Paris saw demands for wider, more airy streets, fresher water and more green space. Both speakers discussed contemporary case studies, highlighting the ways The Wharf and the Whitmore in Pentagon City incorporate pedestrian-scale flexible spaces and abundant greenery. In fact, Abdul-Rahman and Bell shared their experiences from recent site visits noting that they saw pedestrians and residents utilizing the outdoor space they designed while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Following a Q&A with the moderator, the panel turned its attention to questions from the audience – many of which looked for specific prognostications. While both speakers made it clear that COVID-19 will result in some long-term changes, they said it was a little too early to make predictions. The event concluded with a virtual networking session.