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Why Getting Back To Normal Can’t Be Our Only Goal

The whack-a-mole approach wastes precious resources

As we survey the social, business and economic casualties of the coronavirus, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries—traditionally top-heavy with creative thinkers—are working to rebound, devising innovative responses to problems that were previously unforeseen.

From re-imagining public transit to shortening supply chains for critical goods to investigating alternatives to conventional construction (think pre-fabrication and on-site robotic assembly) to studying the decentralization of city-centric corporate headquarters, we’re eagerly investigating new models for resuming life and work in a protective manner.

But getting back to normal can not be our only goal. While developing a vaccine for the virus is obviously a priority, the truly pressing issue is preparing for the next pandemic—whether its nature is biological, environmental, societal or economic. in the last 20 years there have been five global epidemics: SARS, Swine Flu, MERS-CoV, ZIKA and, now, COVID-19. How do we avoid being blindsided again? As the late management consultant and business philosopher Peter Drucker noted, “A crisis that recurs a second time is a crisis that must not occur again.”

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