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Dec 20, 2018

Join in this fascinating conversation with Joanna Frank, founding President & CEO of the Center for Active Design, the leading non-profit organization that uses design to foster healthy and engaged communities.

The mission of the Center for Active Design is to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases by promoting physical activity and healthy food access through the design of buildings, streets, and neighborhoods.

My favorite part of my conversation with Joanna was exploring and unpacking The Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Toolkit. The Center for Active design was a co-author and expert content advisor for this resource, and Joanna had some great insights into the toolkit’s 21 evidence-based recommendations for promoting health at the building or project scale.

Prior to launching the Center, Joanna worked for the City of New York, where her positions included Director of Active Design and Director of the NYC FRESH program. Before working for the City, Joanna was a Partner at Bright City Development, LLC where she was responsible for the development of mixed-use residential buildings using sustainable design criteria. Joanna is a member of the American Heart Association Workplace Health Steering Committee.

Inspired by the precedent of design impacting public health in the 19th century as recognized by the massive reduction in the spread of infectious diseases, Active Design builds on health research showing that design can impact today’s biggest challenges around the physical, mental, and social well-being of communities around the world.

The Center for Active Design is the operator for Fitwel, a unique building certification that positively impacts occupant health and productivity through an integrated approach to workplace design and operations. Fitwel’s development was led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA)

To download the Building Healthcare Places toolkit, visit and to learn more about Fitwel, visit

The Center For Health Design has joined us as an industry partner! You can learn more about the incredible research, advocacy, and education work The Center For Health Design is doing at, and you can gain access to an amazing, prolific collection of healthcare design resources by becoming a Center For Health Design Affiliate.

Thank you to The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers for their support of this show. Find out more about their certification program at

In the episode you will learn:

  • A new study just out from The United Health Foundation reports the obesity rate in the US has now exceeded 30% of the adult population and how the built environment can change this health trend.
  • The design of where you live, work, etc. has a measurable impact on your health because of behavior and examples of this in the hospital setting.
  • Who is The Center for Active Design and what is the organization doing right now to help public health.
  • The 3 leading causes of preventable deaths right now worldwide and each risk factor is impacted by our surroundings.
  • Why we are now facing these huge public challenges.
  • The history of the rise of car use in the United States and how it has contributed to current and urgent public health issues.
  • How the design of our communities can be changed to improve health.
  • How to get involved with Fitwel, a unique building certification that positively impacts occupant health and productivity through an integrated approach to workplace design and operations.
  • What is the Building Healthcare Places Toolkit and how can you download a free copy instantly (see notes above).
  • Many of the evidence-based strategies in the Toolkit apply to hospitals and healthcare environments.
  • What healthcare designers, developers and architects can learn from the Building Healthcare Places Toolkit to help hospitals integrate with the surrounding communities and neighborhoods in more impactful and meaningful ways.


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