“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”
Frank Gehry

Design + Wellbeing Committee


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.

Social Connectedness
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.

Environmental Quality
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.

Sensory Environments
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.

Physical Activity
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.



Rachel Cowen

Nancy Skinkle, AIA 

Committee Members

Matthew Welker - AIA

Helen Avery - Integral Group

Vincent Bataoel - Above Green

Tatiana Bendeck - Perkins Eastman

Steve Breslin - NIH

Abby Camacho - MCLA

Rachel Cowen - Hord Coplan Macht

Kelly Drewry - Davis Buckley Architects

Lydia Durand - Above Green

Marc Fairbrother - RTKL

Chuck First - GWU

Sara Hammerschmidt - ULI

Hasti Khodabakhsh - SOM

Nick Kushner - Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Victoria Lanteigne - Steven Winter Associates

Zaw Latt - INTEC Group, Inc.

Meng Lulu LeBlanc - Embassy of Canada

Nelina Loiselle - Above Green

Layla McCay - Urban Design + Mental Health

Tina McIntosh - Active Body Works

Tom McManus - Torti Gallas + Partners

Rhea Patel - Deloitte

Ken Ray - Toole Design Group

Steve Rogers - Gordon

Gigi LaTurno Scovel - Paralyzed Veterans of America

Nancy Skinkle - Architect of the Capital

Thomas Striegel - Davis Buckley Architects

Leigh Stringer - EYP

Andrea Swiatocha - Hord Coplan Macht



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.

*Once a quarter, a guest speaker will present at the committee meeting.  For more information please contact Andrea Swiatocha, Assoc. AIA.


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