Designers have so many resources when creating a project - the developer, the general contractor, the suppliers, and the list goes on and on. But what about the individuals who live in the community where the project will be located? How can that change the dynamics of the design?

Several designers show how you can have a smarter, and healthier, project by tapping into local resources.

“Something like 80 percent of the reasons people are healthy or unhealthy are not the direct result of medical care. They are the results of the lives we live and the communities in which we live,” said Victor Rubin, vice president for research at PolicyLink, a national research and action institute that seeks to advance economic and social equity. Rubin discussed these findings during the "Health Beyond Health Care: Integrating Research, Data, and Engagement into Practice" session at A’17 in Orlando, Florida.

The focus on safety, sanitation, and other public health works in communities dates back 120 years; according to Rubin, “city planning and health were linked at the start, but the connection was largely dismantled [in the early 1900s].” He noted, however, that city planners and architects are now trying to revitalize that connection.

Finding a way to improve results

In 2015, Mahlum Architects embarked on a mission to reimagine what it would accomplish in the next decade. There was one topic that continually surfaced in their discussions.

“We want to have a positive impact in creating healthy and sustainable communities on a local level,” said Anne Schopf, FAIA, a design partner at Mahlum Architects, located in Seattle, Washington.

Read More