Design & Health Research Consortium


The American Institute of Architects and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) has established the Design & Health Research Consortium to advance university-led research in the area of design and health.

The 19 members of the Consortium are comprised of experts from both design and public health disciplines.

Members of the Design & Health Research Consortium are expected to improve the usefulness and quality of research linking design to health outcomes through deliberative partnership with other entities, collectively equipped to:

  • strengthen the design and health knowledge base by documenting and disseminating peer-reviewed research
  • develop evidence-based tools for practicing professionals informed by current research
  • translate the outcomes of research for policymakers and the general public

The AIA and ACSA work with members to identify and develop opportunities for funding, publishing, and translating research that connects design decisions with health outcomes. Coordinated efforts across the Consortium benefit members, both design and health professionals, and the public as a whole.

Consortium members

The Cornell University Institute for Healthy Futures

The Cornell University Institute for Healthy Futures is the first academic center in the country to combine hospitality, architectural and environmental design, and health policy and management into a broad-based platform to improve service in healthcare, wellness, and senior living. Current research projects include the impact of the physical environment on mental health, design goals for hospice care, tools that measure human behavior, and means of supporting wellness and sustainability in hospitality settings.

Drexel University

The Urban Design & Health team from Drexel’s School of Public Health and Westphal College of Media Arts & Design will focus on a depressed West Philadelphia neighborhood known as Mantua, where more than a third (34 percent) of residents live in poverty.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard School of Graduate Design

The emphasis of the Healthy Buildings program is to build sustainable urban environments that not only support basic human needs but also provide healthy spaces in which people can thrive. The school's focus begins by addressing individual buildings, where we spend 90% of our time, and then tackling clusters of buildings, neighborhoods, and districts.

Illinois Institute of Technology

The diverse team blends expertise in rehabilitation psychology, architecture, and engineering to conduct empirical research on mental and physical health in the built environment. Specifically, the team plans to further examine the associations between indoor environmental quality, and the productivity, health, and well-being of occupants.

Kent State University

Kent State University’s team comprises Healthcare Design, Architecture, Urban Design, Nursing, and Public Health programs. From the smaller building to the larger community scale, this cross-disciplinary team addresses psychological and physical health through the built environment, from the perspective of applied research and design practice. Specifically, they work to identify and test design solutions that would respond to depression, environmental stressors, accessibility, and social inclusion.

Morgan State University

The University’s Community, Design, Health (CDH) Forum was initiated to engage students from multiple departments–architecture, planning, landscape, sociology, public health, and psychology, and nursing–with academic and professional conversations about health and design.

New School of Architecture & Design, Innovative Design Science, and University of California, San Diego

The NewSchool of Architecture & Designs translational design research collaboration provides directly relevant experience in bringing together unconventional, interdisciplinary partnerships to innovate and create environments that encourage healthy behaviors and improved public health outcomes.

Portland State University, School of Architecture

The School of Architecture takes an integrated approach to research, teaching, and dissemination of information focused on the connection between architecture and well-being. The School’s Center for Public Interest Design provides students opportunities to learn, challenge, and implement principles of public interest design. Recent work with the city of Sacramento explored how public interest design can be used to address the needs of some of Sacramento’s most disinvested and environmentally impacted neighborhoods in an urban area of culturally diverse communities.  

Texas A&M University, Center for Health Systems & Design, College of Architecture

One of the world’s leading healthcare design research organizations, CHSD brings together experts from multiple disciplines to focus on sustainable, evidence-based design in the field of healthcare environments.

Tulane University

Tulane University’s School of Architecture seeks to address complex social and ecological challenges by deepening the understanding of the relationship between the built environment and health at population and individual scales. The work of the school's Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design will serve as a catalyst, bringing together faculty from across the university. Efforts will include evaluation of engaged design processes and public interest design projects with an intent to inform policy and shape practice.

Texas Tech University, College of Architecture

The TTU System is collaborating on projects to service 108 counties in West Texas. Its research focus will be new uses for tele-health technologies, cost and benefit modeling for agriculture and health, community planning and design influence on obesity and chronic diseases, cost benefit metrics regarding high rates of occupational and personal injury in rural and urban populations, loud noise disparity in rural populations; and technology and social connectedness.

University of Arizona Institute on Place and Wellbeing

The Institute focuses on the use of physiological measures of the stress response, using wearable sensors such as heart monitors.

University of Florida

The UF team’s research will go beyond today’s conventional health and safety standards to develop and test performance measures of residential building systems, materials, and spatial/design configurations, and of community infrastructure (e.g., streets/sidewalks, density) as to their impact on health of older adults.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, School of Architecture

The University of Illinois team brings together faculty from Fine and Applied Arts and Applied Health Sciences to focus on the potentials of design, technology, and policy to reduce vulnerabilities across the life span. Their work will identify and analyze interventions that influence person-environment relations toward increased individual and community resilience with a focus on vulnerabilities associated with age, income, ethnicity, and areas of low-density development.

University of Kansas, School of Architecture, Design and Planning

The school will tackle a variety of research subjects by engaging faculty from other departments and schools, including engineering, design, urban planning, sociology, public health, and medicine.

University of Memphis, School of Public Health

Memphis has one of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the country, with more than 300,000 pedestrian injuries and more than 1,000 pedestrian fatalities. The school’s Memphis Walks’ initiative focuses on improving quality of life through improved walkability, promoting physical activity, improved air quality, and social cohesion via walking.

University of Miami, School of Architecture and Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Health Sciences

The university’s research focus will center on Miami-Dade County’s “Neighborhood Park Project,” a three-year project to provide better environmental, population and individual health outcomes through increased physical activity and social interaction.

University of Minnesota, School of Architecture

The school’s team of health-focused, human-centered systems designers, architects, and public health experts plan to engage in “in situ” research and collaborate with a low income urban community in Minneapolis to develop a systematic Design + Health Equity scorecard to 1) aid in identifying key community specific environmental assets and barriers to health equity needs and 2) offer tangible tools that guide the design/redesign at the building- block and community level.

University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning

Low income communities in New Mexico experience some of the highest rates of obesity in the nation, in both urban and rural settings. As a result, UNM's work includes identifying ways to increase and improve opportunities for active transportation and recreation—both qualitatively and quantitatively.

North Carolina State University

As a Land Grant and Extension institution, NCSU actively engages citizens statewide on issues of design, sustainability, community health, and community engagement. Investigators are exploring health in a variety of scales, from childhood environments to reduce obesity, to access to greenways in planning, and health strategies for rural communities. Recently, their team form the College of Design and College of Natural Resources was funded to examine how privately funded multifamily development projects are investing in public health initiatives.

University of Oregon

The school will research the “built environment microbiome.” Although the microbial communities that inhabit buildings and urban areas are poorly understood and rarely recognized by architects and planners, the design of the built environment has been shown to influence which microorganisms are present and thriving and which are not.

University of South Florida

Researchers at the Florida Center for Community Design & Research and USF College of Public Health will focus on the Tampa Bay region’s urban resiliency opportunities. Research will leverage transportation, infrastructure, smart growth principals, and institutional logics to evaluate opportunities for bolstering population health factors through improved built environment design initiatives.

University of Virginia, School of Architecture

This project establishes a stress environment consortium to build evidence on how urban green infrastructure (UGI)—including natural typologies like green walls/roofs can support stress mitigation and, in turn, promote health resilience and protection from chronic disease. Its goal is to develop a new national capacity to measure and understand the link between UGI and stress mitigation, including gender, race and income disparities.

University of Washington, Department of Architecture

The University of Washington team initiatives include using Seattle’s Bullitt Center, which was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, as a laboratory to test the intersection between health and the built environment on multiple scales, research on design and technology fostering energy efficiency and healthy human environments, and interdisciplinary teaching initiatives in health and the built environment.

Washington University in St. Louis, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and Brown School of Social Work

The Sam Fox School’s Center for Health Research & Design uses design research methods to develop new knowledge that leads to innovative solutions for improving the experience of health and delivery of care from the community to the hospital and back.

Image credits


University of Arkansas Community Design Center