AIA Names Mailman School and School of Architecture to First AIA Design & Health Research Consortium

December 24, 2014
AIA design consortium

December 18, 2014—The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the AIA Foundation, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), named Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation as charter members of the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium, which will help fund basic research on how design affects public health. Over a three-year period, the AIA and its partners will provide institutional support and capacity building for consortium members to promote collaboration through local and national partnerships; enable the sharing of knowledge through private listserv activity, conference calls, and face-to-face events; and provide a new portal on for members to share research activity. Whenever appropriate, the AIA and its partners will promote the activities of the consortium with potential funders.

“The research teams chosen for this consortium include some of the nation’s leading thinkers about the growing connection between design and public health,” said AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA. “We chose them because their research has the best potential for affecting policy across a wide swath of issues at the intersection of the built environment and public health.”

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation are one of 11 pairings of schools of public health and architecture schools selected as charter members of the consortium. The team, led by Andrew Rundle, DrPH, associate professor of epidemiology, and Hilary Sample, MArch, associate professor of architecture, planning, and preservation and AIA member, will focus its research and translation activities on physical activity and identifying the ways in which architecture and urban design create built environments that support physically active lifestyles. While physical activity prevents cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity and reduces blood pressure, less than 50 percent of the U.S. population meet current recommendations for activity.

The team will use GPS and GIS technologies to study how neighborhood built environments can support physical activity among New York City residents and will develop methods to conduct similar research in Rio das Pedras, a favela community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The choice of research sites is motivated by two key UN projections: (1) by 2025, 379 million people (10 percent of the world’s population) are expected to live in megacities such as New York City and (2) by 2030, 2 billion people will live in “informal communities” such as Rio das Pedras.

The other members of the Columbia design team are Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH,assistant professor of epidemiology; Kathryn Neckerman, Phd, senior research scientist at the Columbia Population Research Center; and Karen Lee,MD, MHSc, a New York City-based global health and built environment consultant.

“We are tremendously excited to be included in the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium,” said Dr. Rundle. “Urban design and architecture create the contexts within which we live and can be used to make physical activity an easily accessible part of everyone’s daily life.”

"It’s exciting for our schools to continue our work together focused around issues of making better environments for living and developing architecture through the micro-urban," said Ms.Sample.

Contact: Stephanie Berger, Mailman School of Public Health, 212-305-4372,

This article originally appeared on the Mailman School's website.