PLAN 84: Article
Designing Healthy Cities

A Joint Initiative of the CAU and the AIA

SA+P’s new Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) is joining forces with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in a new research collaboration focused on how design can help improve urban health.

The research will support AIA’s efforts through the Clinton Global Initiative’s Decade of Design: Global Urban Solutions Challenge – a ten-year AIA pledge to promote urban design that addresses the interests of public health and the effective use of natural, economic and human resources.

Through that initiative, the AIA is working with organizations to effect meaningful change through research, community participation, design frameworks and active implementation of innovative solutions.

The collaborative effort is based on the premise that massive urbanization can affect human and environmental health in uniquely negative ways, many of which can be addressed through the realm of design.

Some of the great health challenges facing the world in the next century and beyond – including the prevalence of obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression, among others – are increasing at an alarming rate and are frequently linked to physical design and urban environmental factors.

Through joint research, prototypes and demonstration projects, CAU and AIA will develop guidelines and design solutions that support human and environmental health in and around cities.

Incorporating broad interdisciplinary perspectives from architecture, building science, urban planning, transportation, finance, medicine and others, the project will proceed in three phases:

   • research and development of evidence-based guidelines,
     starting in the spring of 2013

   • working with a particular city, including municipal officials
     and community stakeholders, to develop specific solutions
     to that city that will also be applicable to other cities in the US and globally

   • putting demonstration projects in place

Findings will be shared online and in print at conferences and workshops, in person and virtually. In addition to funding provided by the AIA and MIT, further support will be raised from private and public sector sources.

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Its Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists and members of the media.

To date CGI members have made more than 2300 commitments, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at more than $73.1 billion.

Posted March 2013