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Decade of Design: The Global Urban Solutions Challenge


   <a href="" target="_blank">Decade of Design</a> is the AIA's Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. It encompasses a multi-faceted initiative to research and develop architectural design approaches for urban infrastructure. The Global Urban Solutions Challenge will develop replicable best practices for cities to ensure the effective use of natural, economic, and human resources as well as promote public health. As part of the Commitment, the AIA is collaborating with schools of architecture and other partners to focus specifically on long-term design solutions for urban health. <a href="">Learn more</a></p>

AIA + MIT Health and Urbanism

<p>This is an epochal moment for understanding the health consequences of our cities. Even more importantly, it is the time to tap advanced knowledge and measurement for innovation and change. In 2013 and beyond the AIA is partnering with MIT's Center for Advanced Urbanism to create environments that support human and environmental health. This long-term <a href="" target="_blank">initiative</a> uses cities as a laboratory for research, analysis, invention, and ultimately the development of sustainable models of urbanism centered on health metrics.</p>

Local Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design

<p>The report Local Leaders: <em><a href="" target="_blank">Healthier Communities Through Design</a></em> offers a broad range of best practices for design professionals, government leaders, and other stakeholders collaborating with each other to reverse America's growing epidemic of obesity and chronic disease. The case studies profiled explore a broad range of policies and initiatives from across the country that are highly replicable for communities of all shapes and sizes. What challenges does your own community face? Read the <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> to find innovative solutions and make a compelling case for change.</p>

Local Leaders: Cities as a Lab

Cities everywhere are entering a new era of unprecedented collaboration and competition. If they are to thrive, they need to be great places. Communities across the country are piloting and supporting initiatives to meet Americans' changing needs, attract investment, and foster innovation. The AIA's Cities as a Lab project aims to demonstrate through unique insights, case studies, and partnerships the power and importance of urban areas. This 2013 initiative will address policy and design solutions for buildings and neighborhoods that promote innovation.<a href="">Learn more</a></p>

Local Leaders: Green Building Incentive Trends

<p>Green building markets are rapidly growing and present significant opportunities for communities to improve economic growth, sustainability, and public health. This joint Local Leaders publication with the National Association of Counties (NACo) supports local government officials looking for creative means to incentivize green construction. Its in-depth best practices profile recent initiatives across the United States with a focused analysis on a broad range of strategies that work well for different communities. <a href="" target="_blank">Learn more</a> about Green Building Incentive Trends.</p>

Component Assistance Leadership Grants

<p>The Component Assistance Leadership Grants advance leadership in the profession and advocacy for progressive public policies across the U.S. In 2011 it helped establish and enhance five component leadership programs and create a sustainable design database. The program also helped seven 2012 grantees launch a variety of replicable initiatives to strengthen advocacy for healthy, livable, and quality-designed built environments. Learn more about: <a href="" target="_blank">2012 Grantees</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">2011 Grantees</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Select Component Leadership Programs</a>.</p>

Recent News


   Check out our recent posts:</p>


   <a href="">A City-Wide Conversation: Healthier Communities Through Design</a></p>


   <a href="">Architects as Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design</a></p>


   <a href="">Governing Summit on Healthy Living: Architecture for Health</a>, RWJF, New Public Health Blog</p>


   <a href="">Cities as a Lab</a>, City Minded</p>


   <a href="">Cities as a Lab for Change</a>, Metropolis, Point of View</p>

of View</p>



Decade of Design

The AIA’s 2012 Commitment to Action through the Clinton Global Initiative is a ten-year collaboration with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and other partners to develop high-impact urban design and technology solutions for health, sustainability, and community resilience. The Global Urban Solutions Challenge will develop replicable best practices for cities to ensure the effective use of natural, economic, and human resources.

This “Decade of Design” involves funding and in-kind contributions through three initiatives: university research; community planning charrettes; and “Show Us Your APPtitude Hackathon” to launch creative apps and technologies with inspiration from the community planning process. An interdisciplinary team will solve challenges in one of America’s largest cities with design thinking and innovative technology.

The Commitment’s 2013 research grants are supporting: Texas A&M University’s project “Evaluating Health Benefits of Livable Communities” – a toolkit for measuring health impacts, which includes an empirical study of a LEED for Neighborhood Development project in Austin; the University of Arkansas’s “Fayetteville 2030: Creating Food City Scenario Plan” – a study of pathways to creating a local food infrastructure amid rapid growth; and the University of New Mexico’s pilot program “Establishing Interdisciplinary Health-Architecture Curriculum”.

Design & Health

In the face of America’s emerging public health crisis, design and health is a key initiative at the American Institute of Architects. The report Local Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design is a call to action and a resource for leaders across the country working to create better communities. It is also one step in a series of future projects.

After decades of sprawling development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that an alarming one third of U.S. adults and nearly one in five children and adolescents are now obese. Chronic diseases are now the leading cause of death and disability as a result of inadequate physical activity, poor nutrition, and pollution.

On the other hand, a community designed for exercise can prevent 90 percent of type two diabetes – as well as 50 percent of heart disease, site-specific cancers, and strokes (Journal of Applied Physiology, 2005). Architects have the power to make healthier buildings and neighborhoods when they work as creative partners with stakeholders in planning, public health, and many other disciplines. All across America, architects are shaping buildings that promote physical activity and reduce respiratory illnesses. They are also creating living streets, better access to healthier foods, and livable neighborhoods for all ages with accessible, family-oriented homes. With America’s healthcare costs projected to reach 20 percent of the GDP by 2030, we need comprehensive and cost-effective solutions. Let us collaborate to use the power of design to create healthier, more economically thriving communities.

Local Leaders

Local Leaders is a national research project on progressive public policies and initiatives in municipalities across the United States. Since its launch in 2007 this series of publications has served as a resource for cities and counties across the country looking to address challenges and seize opportunities at the intersection of innovation, green building, healthier community design, and economic growth.

Six of the past Local Leaders reports support cities and counties developing or expanding green building programs. Since the release of Green Schools in 2011, the latest resource on this topic, Green Building Incentive Trends, covers a range of municipal incentives along with tactics for implementing them successfully in different communities. Released in 2012, Healthier Communities Through Design offers solutions for healthier buildings and neighborhoods.

Issue Briefs

The Public Policy team focuses on a wide range of municipal policy issues relevant to the design profession. Among these are health, green building, and sustainable design; education and procurement of architectural services; permitting and zoning issues; and other issues important to the architecture profession.

Healthier Communities
Green Schools

Green Affordable Housing

Green Building Programs

Smart Growth/Transit-Oriented Development

Municipal Innovation Zones

Expedited Permitting

City Governance

Architectural Design Review Boards

Planning and Zoning Commissions

Policies & Position Statements

The Public Policies and Position Statements that follow have been approved by the AIA Board of Directors and are in effect until rescinded by the Board. Public Policies are AIA statements of belief to policy-makers, the public, and the construction industry on issues of public policy affecting the membership, the profession of architecture, or The American Institute of Architects. Position Statements elaborate on Public Policies or apply them to specific conditions or events. Commentaries are white papers or other analyses that amplify AIA doctrine by presenting rationale and facts to support adherence to a specific Public Policy or Position Statement.

Once approved by the Board of Directors, all AIA Public Policies and Position Statements are binding on AIA components. Specifically, the Institute's Bylaws state "no act" of an AIA component "shall directly or indirectly nullify or contravene any act or policy of the Institute." Under certain circumstances, components may be granted exceptions to the policy conformance requirement. Rules for requesting and granting exceptions to Institute Policies may be obtained from the Office of the General Counsel. Rules governing content, format, review, and adoption of policies and positions are contained in Chapter 9 of the AIA Rules of the Board.

For additional information read the AIA Public Policies and Position Statements here.


How can our work support your community and initiatives? We are always eager to hear about your challenges and successes. Send us your questions and comments; let us know how we can work together.

Zachary Hart, Director, Policy

Local Government Partnerships

NACo Green Government Initiative

NLC Corporate Partner Program

U.S. Conference of Mayors Business Council


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