Issues & AdvocacyPublic Policy
A City-Wide Conversation: Healthier Communities Through Design
The AIA’s new publication Local Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design shows how architects can reverse America’s emerging public health crisis by starting a community-wide conversation to find innovative solutions and enact change. Among its case studies, the report highlights the impressive successes of New York City’s multidisciplinary coalition in its work to increase physical activity through innovative design strategies.
In 2006 AIA New York and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene convened the first annual Fit-City Conference to discuss the city’s rising rates of obesity and chronic disease. The professional relationships built at Fit-City removed barriers to cross-sector collaboration, resulting in the release of the ground-breaking Active Design Guidelines in 2010. These evidence-based guidelines have since been used by architects and local leaders across city agencies to design buildings, streets, and neighborhoods that better promote physical activity.
Active Design Guidelines, courtesy of AIANY.
Columbus Circle in New York City, architect: Dattner Architects/Parsons Brinckerhoff, photo by Vanni Archive.
Today, AIANY and New York City agencies have built on their partnership to play a leading role in promoting a national conversation about active design. “The Active Design Guidelines have taken trans-sectorial and inter-city collaboration to a new level," says Rick Bell, Executive Director at AIANY. Growing from Fit-City, Fit Nation summits in New York, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans have provided government officials and design professional with insights and best practices for using the cost-effective Active Design Guidelines in communities of all shapes and sizes.
America’s growing health care costs are projected to aggravate our budgetary constraints by reaching an astounding 20 percent of the GDP in 2020. Reversing this trend will require a new level of collaboration and a stronger focus on healthier design as a comprehensive, cost-effective solution.
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