University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: How Design Affects Health: UW Team from Schools of Public Health and Built Environments Selected for AIA Consortium

How Design Affects Health: UW Team from Schools of Public Health and Built Environments Selected for AIA Consortium


The School of Public Health and the College of Built Environments are part of a University of Washington interdisciplinary team selected to join a consortium seeking to further research and recognition of the strong influence of design on public health.

Over a three-year period, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Architects Foundation will provide institutional support for the new members of the AIA Design & Health Research Consortium, promoting local and national partnerships and knowledge-sharing.

The UW team is led by Andrew Dannenberg, affiliate professor in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and in Urban Design and Planning, and by Heather Burpee, research assistant professor in the department of Architecture.

Besides the UW, five new consortium team members were named: Morgan State University, University of Memphis School of Public Health, University of Minnesota School of Architecture, University of Virginia School of Architecture, and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts/Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis.  They join the 11 inaugural members, which include schools within Columbia University, Drexel University, UC-San Diego, and Texas A&M, among others.

“We chose these new members 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,” said Architects Foundation Executive Director Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop.

Said Howard Frumkin, Dean of the School of Public Health, “From buildings, to neighborhoods, to entire metro areas, the built environment is a key determinant of human health.  Here at UW, there are strong links between the School of Public Health and the College of Built Environments, and participating in the Consortium will make those links even stronger.  In addition, the work aligns with other important UW efforts, such as Urban@UW.  This is a perfect example of cross-disciplinary collaboration, helping UW find answers that improve the human condition.”

The UW team focuses on health in the built environment, including using Seattle’s Bullitt Center, the greenest commercial building in the world, as a test laboratory and serving on the steering committee of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, a sustainability initiative in a densely populated Seattle neighborhood.

Denis Hayes, president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, wrote in support of the UW team, saying that the UW's inclusion in the consortium "will provide opportunities for deepened research collaborations between the university and regional professional community at the intersection of design and health."