Architects as Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design

The AIA’s recent publication Local Leaders: Healthier Communities Through Design shows how architects can design a healthier future by collaborating with public health officials and other stakeholders. Among its case studies the report profiles the successes of Los Angeles’s broad coalition to increase physical activity and improve air quality by reducing sprawl.

In 2006 Los Angeles created an engine for transformation by establishing a dedicated unit within the L.A. County Department of Public Health in order to promote healthier urban design. Since then AIA|LA has worked with the PLACE Program (Policies for Livable, Active Communities and Environments) to offer technical assistance for creating and implementing policies and tools for better design. In just six years this partnership helped Los Angeles implement many replicable initiatives that can create streets for people in communities of all sizes.

Among the initiatives spearheaded with the leadership of AIA|LA is the nationally renowned Model Design Manual for Living Streets, which guides street design for individual projects and helps jurisdictions update their own street design manuals. The City of Los Angeles Planning Commission, AIA|LA, and other stakeholders also helped PLACE develop Streets for People. This pilot program quickly and inexpensively transforms underused roads into vibrant, health-promoting public spaces.

Like other innovative leaders across the U.S., L.A. government officials and architects are implementing comprehensive design solutions to address multiple health challenges simultaneously for generations to come. To learn about other initiatives in Los Angeles, check out the report! Everyone can make a difference: read Local Leaders and leave your own legacy.

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