Promoting Healthy Living from the Nexus of Healing

Hospitals primarily treat the sick, responding to patients with chronic illnesses. But what if they instead operated to prevent disease in the communities they serve? Hospitals have the potential to positively impact neighborhoods through healthier design and development practices, shifting their focus to preventing disease and promoting health among patients, staff, visitors, and entire communities.

On 09.24.15, the Center for Active Design, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the AIANY Health Facilities Committee hosted a panel discussion and workshop on reimagining hospitals as change agents. Speakers Robin Guenther, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, Perkins+Will; Suzanne Nienaber, Partnerships Director, Center for Active Design; Ramon Rodriguez, President and CEO, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center; and moderator Sarah Wolf, Deputy Director for Active Living, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, shared local and national case studies that highlight how hospitals can help prevent disease.

A diverse range of professionals from the healthcare and design fields later participated in guided conversations on how hospitals can enhance the user experience by creating opportunities for physical activity. Healthy food and more inviting stairways are easy interventions, but hospitals can also create more transportation options and include inviting greenspaces for staff, visitors, and neighbors. Multidisciplinary spaces can also be deployed for community engagement, allowing local residents to take advantage of the services that the institutions have to offer. Such implementations have already been espoused by universities and affordable housing developments.

Pulse Points

  • In support of the NYC Department of City Planning’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability, which was certified on 09.22.15 along with the East New York Rezoning and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, AIANY issued a statement. If you are interested in helping to advocate for the changes or educate others about what they mean for architects, please email
  • In honor of Climate Week, on 09.22.15, Mayor de Blasio announced that solar installations have more than doubled since January 2014. Public and private solar energy production is a key component of the mayor’s plan to reduce emissions 80% by 2050.
  • AIANY submitted statements to the City Council Committees on Environmental Protection and Housing and Buildings on proposed legislation that would impact ground source heat pumps and passive house, respectively, in NYC.
  • Illya Azaroff, AIA, co-chair of the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee, testified before the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency at an oversight hearing on the City’s Build it Back program.
  • This week, Mayor de Blasio announced the launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, which will provide free technical assistance and services for building owners to achieve critical energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy upgrades. The program will be a key component of the One City: Built to Last plan to reduce buildings’ carbon emissions. The announcement also came with the expansion of the Carbon Challenge to more than 250 million square feet of real estate. Read the press release, including a quote from AIANY President Tomas Rossant, AIA, here.