Design’s central role in creating healthier cities

Amid rising tides of obesity, chronic disease and health-care costs, communities across the U.S. are examining strategies to promote healthier lifestyles. Urban design is central to these efforts, and architects and designers can play a key role, according to this December 2012 report by the American Institute of Architects.

Local Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design examines the positive impacts that design can have on health through eight case studies that explore the challenges, opportunities and successful strategies being pursued across the country. The case studies document public-policy choices that are available to local officials in widely varying communities as they face difficult decisions.

Read the study to how cities are meeting the challenges, including:

  • New York City: A city-wide conversation promoting healthier design through the Active Design Guidelines, Fit-City conferences, innovative urban design
  • Los Angeles: Advancing active mobility and healthier growth through living streets, public transit, and healthier community design with innovative policies and initiatives
  • Nashville: A commitment to become the healthiest city in the South by creating an active culture, improving access to fresh foods, and promoting healthier transportation within and across neighborhoods
  • Milwaukee: Revitalizing blighted brownfields for thriving light industry, healthier buildings, and neighborhood access to active recreation
  • Boston: Designing healthier, high-performance green affordable housing for better air quality
  • Portland: Creating communities for all ages with policy decisions that promote mobility, accessibility, and family-oriented affordable housing options
  • Austin: Developing complete, more active communities through complete streets, better neighborhood design, and health-promoting public spaces
  • Seattle: Envisioning the future through a health-promoting EcoDistrict with healthier buildings, better mobility, improved access to fresh foods, and more social equity
"Our bodies, our health and buildings are forever connected. The links between architecture and well-being are richer than merely affording safety from injury; buildings can be, should be, agents of health – physical, mental and social health." — Richard Jackson, MD, MPH, Hon. AIA

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