Fit Nation Draws National Support for Active Design

Event: Fit Nation DC
Location: John A. Wilson building; 02.02.11
Speakers: Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP — President, AIA New York Chapter; Lynn Silver, MD, MPH — Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Markku Allison, AIA — Resource Architect, AIA National; Ronald E. Bogle, Hon. AIA — President & CEO, American Architectural Foundation; Yolanda Cole, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP — President, AIA|DC; District of Columbia Councilmember Tommy Wells, MSW; Karen Lee, MD, MHSc, FRCPC — Director of the Built Environment, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Alex Washburn, AIA — Chief Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning; Wendy Feuer — Assistant Commissioner, Urban Design & Art, NYC Department of Transportation; David Burney, FAIA — Commissioner, NYC Department of Design + Construction; Les Bluestone — Partner, Blue Sea Development Company, NYC; Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA — Design Director & Principal, Interiors, Perkins+Will; Skye Duncan — Associate Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning, Office of the Chief Urban Designer; Shelley Poticha — Director for Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Joyce Lee, AIA, LEED AP — Director of Active Design Program, NYC Department of Design + Construction; LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH — Senior Deputy Director, Washington, D.C. Department of Health; Harriet Tregoning — Director, Washington, D.C. Office of Planning; Carl Elefante, FAIA, LEED AP — Principal & Director of Sustainable Design, Quinn Evans Architects, Washington, D.C.; Jessica Vogel, AIA, LEED AP — Senior Associate, Project Designer, Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM Company, Minneapolis, MN; Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIA New York; Robin Schepper — Executive Director, Let’s Move! Initiative, Office of the First Lady
Organizers: AIANY; NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene in partnership with: NYC Department of Design + Construction; AIA|DC; AIA National; with support from American Architectural Foundation

(l) Capital Bikeshare is one of the expanding bike share programs in DC. (r) Kate Rube, AIANY Active Design Guidelines National Training Manager, welcoming participants to Fit Nation DC.

Laura Trimble

Building on the Fit City conference in NYC held over the past five years, AIA New York co-hosted the first Fit Nation meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss the design of communities, streets, and buildings and how it impacts health — particularly obesity. The conference brought together speakers from NYC who helped develop the Active Design Guidelines, as well as officials from Washington, DC, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.

Physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet are the second leading cause of premature death in the U.S. next to tobacco, and a growing body of research indicates that architectural and urban design strategies can help encourage people to walk and bicycle more, use the stairs, and eat healthier food. Over the last several years, NYC’s Departments of Health & Mental Hygiene, Design + Construction, Planning, and Transportation have undertaken an unprecedented collaboration with AIANY to develop and implement the Active Design Guidelines, which detail how to better design and construct our communities and infrastructure to encourage greater physical activity.

Executive Director of Let’s Move! Robin Schepper talked about First Lady Michelle Obama and her own commitment to active design issues, relating a story about how she led a campaign to build sidewalks in her DC neighborhood after finding that her children had no safe way to walk to school. DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, MSW, relayed his lifelong commitment to healthier communities through design, while the head of DC’s Planning Department, Harriet Tregoning, showcased some of the city’s active design initiatives: a new bike sharing system, the redesign of dozens of the city’s streets to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, and the construction of well-designed grocery stores in some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods.

Fit Nation DC was the start of a new effort by AIANY and NYC city agencies to build national support for the Active Design Guidelines and the use of a new LEED Innovation Credit for Physical Activity in green buildings and development. The next Fit Nation meeting will take place in New Orleans in relation to the AIA National Convention in May, and the next Fit City event in NYC will occur on 05.17.11.