In another time, not long ago, an elevator was a conveyance to reach a higher floor, an open office was a spot to clock eight hours while hoping your boss didn’t catch you checking Facebook and a doorknob was one of those banalities of architecture that seemed to warrant attention only when it needed replacing.
What a difference a virus makes.
To live through the COVID-19 pandemic is to see the surfaces of our cities rewritten by invisible narratives of contagion. Elevators now seem like intolerably small spaces to share with a stranger. The open-plan office, with its recirculated air and countless shared surfaces, feels like a flu buffet. And that humble doorknob? It could play a starring role as a protagonist named Critical Vector in