Improve human health and wellness through the design of the built environment.
The committee seeks to promote awareness of public health challenges and built environment solutions; convey design strategies to improve human health and wellbeing; and champion the role architects, designers, builders, communities and other industry leaders can play in the improvement of health.
Architects’ professional responsibility is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Design—including active streets, thoughtful lighting strategies, and open sightlines—can protect people from more than physical harm; it can remove real and perceived impediments that cause anxiety, stress, and psychological harm.
People thrive on relationships with each other. Strong networks within our families, our friends, and our neighborhoods improve our happiness, our well-being, and our resilience. Design that encourages play, communal dining, and a friendly “hello” is fundamental to behaviors such as civic participation, voting, and helping neighbors.
Architects aren’t green scientists, but the places and spaces they design may mitigate or reverse quantifiable chemical and microbial site, water, and air pollutants that directly and indirectly affect human health. From clean energy to smart material selections, the decisions architects make matter.
Beyond appearance—the visible beauty of an architect-designed space—people experience the built environment through touch, sound, smell, and even taste. Design that embraces varied sensory experiences including circadian rhythms, thermal and acoustic controls, and meditative labyrinths promote mental and emotional well-being, improve quality of life, and predict improved physical health.
Architects should design myriad opportunities for exercise, recreation, and more active daily experiences including labor, chores, and commutes. Promoting individual choice through multi-modal transportation, varied and highly-accessible parks, and appealing stairs are small steps to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
Access to Natural Systems
People are awed by nature. Architects can harness the power of natural systems, including natural forms, diverse species, and calming vistas, to support healthy food production, to provide stress relief, and to improve human performance, especially in periods of intense stress.
Victoria Lanteigne, Committee Leader on Accessibility
Tatiana Bendeck, Committee Leader on Social Connectedness
Rhea Patel, Committee Leader on Environmental Quality
Leigh Stringer, Committee Leader on Sensory Environments
Rachel Cowen, Committee Leader on Physical Activity
Everyone is welcome: architects, non-architects, AIA members, and non-members alike. Meetings are held the third Monday of every month at the District Architecture Center, 6:30pm-7:30pm.
What’s happening? Check out our Events Calendar!
AIA Design and Health - Enhancing Human Health Through the Power of Design
Urban Land Institute (ULI) – Building Healthy Places
Center for Active Design (NYC) – Promoting Health Through Design
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) – Healthy and Livable Communities
American Planning Association (APA) – Planning and Community Health Center
Robert Wood Johnson - Active Living Research
WELL Building Institute – WELL Building Standard
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) – Accessibility as Whole Building Design
Universal Design – Resource for Universal Design News
Aging in Place – Resource for Principles on Aging in Place