April 2, 2020

Test Facility in a Box: Modular, Walk-in Booth Design for Coronavirus Testing

To address the need for testing in urban areas for those without vehicles, CannonDesign architect Albert Rhee created a walk-in testing booth concept. The design was published by BD+C, Azure and Architect Mag among others.

This concept was developed by a CannonDesign team into the COVID Shield, available here.

Coronavirus testing operations are often the first physical point-of-contact between a healthcare provider and patient, bringing with it an inherent risk of transmission. Large drive-thru testing operations have proven effective in limiting provider-patient exposure and accelerating test administration here in the United States. But this form of testing requires significant PPE supplies for testing center staff and administrators. It also presents accessibility challenges for communities where large segments of the population don’t have access to a vehicle.

A walk-in testing booth provides an alternative solution that eliminates physical provider-patient exposure in a modular format that is simple to deploy for temporary testing operations. The design is based on testing operations already in place at Yang Ji General Hospital in Seoul, South Korea (featured in this YouTube video).

We developed a design concept for the modular system to establish a universal basis of design for broad-scale production and implementation of these walk-in testing booths.

covid testing coronavirus modular design
covid testing coronavirus modular design

The story behind the initial design

Albert Rhee, AIA, LEED AP, is a healthcare architect and husband to a Chicago-based nurse. He is witnessing firsthand the enormous pressure caregivers are experiencing as they work to protect our communities while caring for COVID-19 patients.

“This is a challenge that is very personal to me,” explained Rhee. “Healthcare workers are extremely concerned about their personal safety and the safety of their families. The current strain on PPE supplies adds enormous stress on an already difficult situation.”

Albert began to search for a design solution that might eliminate provider-patient exposure completely, thus reducing the consumption of PPE supplies. He also wanted to find something that could be effective in his own Chicago neighborhood. While monitoring COVID-19 developments in his hometown of Seoul, South Korea, he came across a local news segment exploring Yang Ji General Hospital’s novel solution for public testing: a telephone booth-inspired testing enclosure. Albert drew upon his own experience to develop a drawing set adapted from what he observed in the video.

COVID Shield

After the initial testing booth concept drew international media attention, a design team went to work developing the drawings into the COVID Shield, a modular, scalable, customizable testing solution that could be placed on college campuses, outside workplaces, in community areas and other settings.

It is being licensed to organizations to provide them with a fast, flexible solution to local, pop-up testing and can be fabricated and assembled by an organization’s internal engineering, facility teams, or other resources.  When you purchase a COVID Shield license, you receive a kit of materials that includes: the drawings, specifications, list of materials, assembly and use instructions guide. Those interested in more product information and pricing can reach out at covidshield@cannondesign.com.