ULI Participates in AIA and APA Health Gatherings

Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak delivers the opening keynote at the APA National Conference in Atlanta (photo credit: APA).

Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak delivers the opening keynote at the APA National Conference in Atlanta (photo credit: APA).

Over the past couple of weeks, ULI staff have had the opportunity to participate in exciting and inspiring programs focused on health and the built environment hosted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Planning Association (APA). These events convened a diverse set of stakeholders to explore how to advance efforts to connect design, planning, and health.

American Institute of Architects

Senior Vice President Rachel MacCleery participated in the American Institute of Architects’ “Value of Design: Design and Health” summit, hosted on April 22-24 at the organization’s national office in Washington, DC. The event featured speakers who shared research and insights about how to better integrate architecture and health. Architect Tye Farrow called on the field to work to do more to “cause health.” Acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak reinforced the role of architecture and planning in promoting public health, saying that his office is working with others to “move the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on prevention and wellness.”

Other speakers, including Professor Vivian Loftness of Carnegie Mellon University, presented compelling research about opportunities to enhance wellbeing and reduce risks through design. George Mason University Professor Edward Miabach talked about the power of a simple message repeated often, by a variety of voices. To change behavior, he said, we must make it “easy, fun, and popular.” Dr. Howard Frumkin closed the summit by entreating attendees to “be optimistic, have an impact, and turn a shared vision into reality.”

American Planning Association

Sara Hammerschmidt, Research Associate for the Building Healthy Places Initiative, attended the American Planning Association’s National Conference on April 26-30 in Atlanta. The conference, which was attended by 5,000 planners, for the first time ever had a focus on health. A Planning Healthy Communities track of concurrent sessions was programmed within the conference. Acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak gave the opening keynote, and urged planners to become more involved in health prevention through attention to land use and design of the built environment. Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, discussed the importance of planning and building communities to promote health during a plenary session. Concurrent sessions featured health-related topics such as walkability, tools for building health partnerships, health impact assessments, green infrastructure, Active Design Guidelines, and healthy housing.

A Partners in Health roundtable session on April 29 convened approximately 40 leaders in the health and the built environment field, representing a variety of national non-profits, local governments, and universities. The group identified recent wins within the field, brainstormed ways to keep the momentum going, and identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to be considered moving forward. The consensus among participants was that good work is being done and it will take more deliberate partnerships and outreach to continue to move the needle to create healthy places.
Learn more about the AIA event: http://www.aia.org/practicing/designhealth/
Learn more about the APA event: http://planning.org/conference/


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