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    AIA Jacksonville Focused on Creating a Healthier City through Design

    By Brooks Rainwater, Director, Public Policy

    AIA Jacksonville is working to make Jacksonville healthier through the power of design. The Chapter recently held a kick-off program focused on Healthier Communities through Design with a representative from AIA National joining Dr. Dawn Emerick, CEO of the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida. Good design creates opportunities to develop health-promoting communities and innovative partnerships between architecture and public health provide the ability to make this happen.

    “AIA Jacksonville has been looking for a more meaningful way to engage the community in design, especially outside of what we traditionally recognize as a “project.” Lee J. Poechmann, AIA, Programs Chairman of AIA Jacksonville, continued, “Understanding how the definition of healthcare is changing, we see no better way than to participate in the evolution of our work and home built environments, with public policy, and collaborating with organizations like the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida.”

    Jacksonville faces a myriad of health challenges in relation to its built environment. Architects and others in the design industry want to change this paradigm and make a difference. AIA Jacksonville has formed an exciting partnership with the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida in order to help make this happen.

    "The partnership between the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida and the AIA Jacksonville Chapter just makes complete sense.  But, our partnership goes beyond developing the predictable Health Committees and monthly programs.  That's easy to do.  We want to work hand and hand to shift the norms and standards of design to expose how architectural environments impact health and how we can create architectural policy that support the health and well-being of individuals and larger populations, “commented Dawn Emerick, Ed.D, CEO of the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida.

    Even with many challenges in the city there are stand-out success stories as well. The Community First Hale and Hearty 7k race that takes place along the riverfront is a key example of a community-wide focus on health. The thriving Riverside Arts Market has been developed under a bridge, activating a key piece of generally underutilized urban infrastructure, with thousands of people attending each week. And, the Riverside Avondale neighborhood, located downtown has received an APA top ten neighborhood award and includes well-preserved homes in a walkable, lively neighborhood.

    The design and public health community will continue to work together to build on current success and advocate for an increased focus on the importance of design and health. Poechmann added, “Through AIA Jacksonville’s programs this year, we hope we can raise needed awareness and activism in Jacksonville.”

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This content is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact the AIA’s Government & Community Relations team, send an email to


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