Bleeding to Leading – Design and Health at the American Institute of Architects

2016.03.14 Design for Health at the AIA39
This house is (maybe? not yet?) LEED certified, and not yet WELL certified (a new standard that supports the people in buildings). The future = architects, doctors, nurses, public health professionals collaborating for total health 2016.03.14 Design for Health at the AIA (View on

As a champion of total health, I am a fan of architects.

As I realized at the American Institute of Architects (@AIAnational) yesterday, so is America. It’s obvious when you see the number of TIME magazine covers featuring architects framed on the wall. Are there as many doctors on Time magazine covers? Doesn’t matter, more for others is not less for us.

I have collaborated with several passionate architects (See: A bunch of doctors, an architect, and a bridge builder: Designing for Health, and Transit, Health, and Gardens, with Greenbuild, American Institute of Architects, and District Department of Transportation). I still don’t know very much about the profession itself.

The people who design the environments we inhabit have a huge impact on our health. Fortunately, they know it: Infographic: How Architecture Can Save Your Life | Co.Design | business + design. And, they want to work with the health professions.

2016.03.14 Design for Health at the AIA1992
2016.03.14 Design for Health at the AIA1992 (View on

That’s what brought me to the American Institute of Architects yesterday, as part of the Design and Health Leadership Group, to collaborate on its Design and Health work.

As the leading voice for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners, the AIA promotes policies and practices that enhance the health and well-being of all populations through the design and construction of physical environments at the urban and building scale.

I learned about the fascinating nuances of the day-to-day lives of people in this profession (every profession has them), as well as some nuances that can help me in collaborating with professionals:

For example, there’s Universal Design (or inclusive design). The issue of accessible built environments for LGBTQ people came up a lot in our work at Kaiser Permanente on KP Lantern (field work to explore the health experience of our transgender members). Now, I know there is a concept in design that encompasses improvements in this area, and it’s been described for this population. Hooray.

2016.03.14 Design for Health at the AIA1995
2016.03.14 Design for Health at the AIA1995 (View on

Part of this work includes creating a health curriculum for professionals, which is what we collaborated on. Like the medical profession, architects have continuing education requirements as part of licensure.

It’s so great to meet and interact with other total health champions across the professions. That’s where the title of the post comes from – from a bleeding edge concept in architecture to a leading edge one – I almost want to say “LEEDing” edge, but I won’t…

Of course, all of the health professions are here to help. And why wouldn’t we be – as I always say, if someone is doing something better than I am, I want to know about it. And, if someone has the potential to help the people we serve together, I want to help them.

Every meeting about health involves walking, so we went to go see the house that will be the shining example one day of a healthy home. We’re all here to make it happen for this building and every one in America. And yes, I am the one at these things that will end up taking the photos….

I love this century 🙂 .

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Ted Eytan, MD