By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – Any teacher or student knows challenges are just opportunities to learn. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, two University of Colorado Denver students took it as an opportunity to change the way they look at architecture and design.

(credit: CBS)

CU Denver students Jason Mirzayi and Kyle Greenhill were about halfway through Professor Osman Attman’s architecture class when they were sent home because of COVID-19. They were already working together on a project to design a healthier building, one that will cut down on bacterial and virus transmission, when suddenly their project had new meaning.

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“It was part of the student project before this whole epidemic came along,” said Professor Attman. “It became really timely.”

Shortly after being sent home Mirzayi was chatting with people online when he was inspired to take the group design even further.

(credit: Jason Merszei and Kyle Greenhill)

“I have friends and family in New York who are living in mid- and high-rise buildings, and right around midterms I was talking to some of them online and one of the guys said ‘I haven’t opened the door in 20 days.’”

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He and Greenhill added features like occupancy sensor UV lights to disinfect surfaces without being harmful to humans, reduced surface area for quicker disinfection, foot operated door openers, and surface products that are safe for application of disinfectant.

They think because of the pandemic, buildings may be designed like this in the future. They say Attman’s class project has prepared them to change architecture and design forever.

“This is going to be affecting architecture for years to come,” said Mirzayi.

“It helped with being able to transition and pivot and adapt to situations because I think that’s what we as designers are going to have going forward,” said Greenhill.

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(credit: CBS)

Mirzayi graduated Saturday with his master’s degree, and Greenhill will be graduating soon. Both say they are ready to get out into the world and use their skills to help society move forward from this pandemic.

Michael Abeyta