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Decade of Design

The Decade of Design: Global Urban Solutions Challenge is a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. This AIA pledge will document, envision, and implement solutions related to the design of the urban built environment in the interest of public health and effective use of natural, economic, and human resources.

The AIA is working together with partner organizations, including the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and others, in order to build on long-standing AIA programs to leverage design thinking in order to effect meaningful change in urban environments through research, community participation, design frameworks, and active implementation of innovative solutions.

The Decade of Design grant program has awarded $80,000 to five universities since 2012. Additional grants are anticipated in 2016.

    North Carolina State was awarded $20,000 to conduct research into “Proactive Recovery Community Structures” for the Outer Banks and to develop an interdisciplinary research team to address critical recovery issues in the wake of the 20 hurricanes that have hit the state’s coastline since 1950.

    Carnegie Mellon was awarded $20,000 to develop a new design work flow and decision-making tools for urban planning, specifically geared to rain-induced flooding and storm-water infrastructure. The project was developed in conjunction with an urban system initiative at Carnegie Mellon. The intent of this initiative is to connect the urban data, data science and systems within built environments to better inform decision and planning and improve the quality of life and sustainability of cities.

    Texas A&M University was awarded $20,000 to evaluate the health benefits of livable communities. The project focuses on Mueller, a 700-acre New Urbanist community in Austin, TX, which has incorporated active living design strategies including complete streets and mixed-use development.

    University of Arkansas was awarded $15,000 to support Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, a model for agricultural urbanism. As part of the initiative, fifth‐year architecture students work with UACDC staff to prepare neighborhood plans within an urban agricultural framework that presuppose walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods.

    University of New Mexico was awarded $5,000 to support development of an inter-professional public health curriculum. The goal of the project, supported by the University’s interdisciplinary Urban Health Equity Task Force, is to improve the health of the local community while creating opportunities for UNM student collaboration.

Building on the successes of the Decade of Design grant program, AIA Foundation joined AIA, ACSA, and Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) to establish the AIA Design and Health Research Consortium. The multi-disciplinary members are dedicated to expanding and translating the knowledge base connecting design and public health outcomes. Over a three year period, the AIA Foundation and its partners will provide institutional support and capacity building for the eleven inaugural consortium members to promote collaboration through local and national partnerships; enable the sharing of knowledge through private listserv activity, conference calls, and face-to-face events; and provide a new portal on for Members to share research activity. A second request for qualifications will be distributed in late 2015.

Growing urbanization presents critical needs and opportunities for creative solutions – and this is where architects can make important contributions. One of the key goals of this Commitment to Action will be to develop knowledge and models to inform a path to support healthier urban environments through the tactics of design that can be replicated in cities worldwide.


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