Design & Health Research Consortium
College of Design Joins AIA-ACSA Design & Health Research Consortium
Through the College of Design, North Carolina State University has been invited to join the fourth cohort of the Design & Health Research Consortium established by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The College was selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants because of its commitment to researching the link between health outcomes and design interventions.
Inclusion in this consortium cohort, which is effective immediately, demonstrates the College’s “expert role in design and health in the built environment,” says Research Associate, Research Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Coordinator for the Design Initiative for Sustainability and Health Traci Rose Rider, PhD, who applied for consortium membership on behalf of the College.
“This [membership] includes us in the national conversation on health and the built environment and connects us with colleagues doing similar, forward-thinking research that we can build on and find synergies with,” Rider explains. Additional benefits include exchanging ideas, collaborating with design and health professionals, connecting to practice, and stronger research funding proposals. Part of the requirement for admission was a strong interdisciplinary partnership with researchers in public health. “We have partnered with Dr. J. Aaron Hipp, associate professor of community health and sustainability from the College of Natural Resources, whose background in public health is a great asset,” states Rider. “We hope to encourage more research in this arena for both our Colleges.”
The realm of health and the built environment is quickly growing, and NC State is at the forefront of research. Increasingly, studies are showing that health outcomes are significantly influenced by “where you are, where you live, where you spend eight, 10, or 12 hours a day working and the physical environment that facilitates that time,” Rider says. “Health is starting to matter more and more to [building] occupants,” Rider adds. They are asking questions about materials, natural light, and air quality. This emphasis on health “goes beyond the boundaries of what traditional design professionals do… it helps us look at the built environment in a different way and encourages us to be more diverse in how we explore opportunities for the benefits of the built environment,” Rider explains.
This consortium membership could be used as a “springboard” to invite other colleges, firms, and the medical community into dialogue and collaboration on these issues and other topics of design, sustainability, community health, and community engagement, suggests Rider. “AIA is looking to increase the dialog between academic researchers and practitioners and this will help us be more prominent in that discussion.”
Staci Kleinmaier is a professional writer and photographer living in Apex, North Carolina. She uses words and images to tell stories. To see her work, visit www.stacikleinmaier.com.