Incentivizing Healthier Placemaking

A June panel, ‘Experiencing Healthier Places’, at the AIA Design Conference in LA looked at the roles that professional planners and architects can have in fostering a healthier society through the built environment.

2 minute read

July 6, 2012, 1:00 PM PDT

By Kevin Madden

Moderated by TPR editor-in-chief David Abel, the panel included: Chet Widom (State Architect, State of California), Kate Diamond (Principal, HMC Architects), Dr. Jonathan Fielding (Director, LA County Department of Public Health), and Dr. Richard Jackson (Chair, Environmental Health Studies, UCLA).

The panelists focus on the roles that planning and architecture can play in improving the health of Americans. What could the State Architect of California, for instance, do to design school buildings that push students to be more physically active? Should urban planners articulate public health goals in their work and public outreach? All panelists recognize that obesity is a serious issue facing American youth. The question remains, then, are planners and architects making their voices heard?

Abel asked Fielding for his opinion on where the responsibility lies for creating healthy places. Fielding responded:

"I think that there are several issues there. First of all, you need to have the social norm that's part of what goes on. We need people to think, "yes, we don't just do things helter skelter; we do things by a plan, and there are reasons, goals, and measures." I don't think we're quite there, but I think that is very important. I think in public health our job is to really help people understand how healthier communities mean a better quality of life, how thinking about design and urban planning and transportation planning is good for them for their children."

Thanks to Kevin Madden

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