BAC Hosts Change City: Design for Health

Shaping conversation on the future of Health and Wellness Design education

Dak Kopec, author and educator, presents at Change City: Design for Health

© Boston Architectural College; Photo by Sam Rosenholtz

The Boston Architectural College was pleased to host Change City: Design for Health, a forum to exchange ideas and prioritize issues of wellness in the design of our cities, buildings, interiors and products, on Friday, June 14 in the College's 951 Boylston Street building.

Nearly forty experts within the fields of design and health attended Change City, engaging in an active, interactive exchange of ideas to identify, explore and redefine the role of the built environment in the health and well-being of the people who use places and objects created by architects, interior designers, and landscape architects.

"One quarter of all preventable diseases have causes directly related to the environment," said Crandon Gustafson, head, BAC School of Interior Design. "We must change the way we define and solve problems in the built environment, and in so doing place health and wellness at the center of the design brief."

The outcome of these conversations is being used both to inform the development of new, multidisciplinary programs in health and wellness design at the BAC and to drive a larger conversation about designing for health and well-being.

"This is an important initiative not just for the BAC but for design schools in general," said BAC President Ted Landsmark. "Our opportunity, as one of the only design schools that teaches across the disciplines of architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and design studies, is to address health and wellness design in a holistic way. What we are doing as a small institution that is open and agile to a range of productive collaborations, has the potential to fundamentally transform the way we think, not just about health and wellness, but about all design. Design needs to work for clients, take advantage of evidence based research, and present outcomes that really serve human needs and human health."

The BAC recognizes multiple areas of compelling need for research and creative solutions, ranging from active living and inclusive design approaches in all environments, to application of evidence-based design in traditional healthcare environments; from alternative health delivery models, to the social and geographic determinants of health in urban settings.

"The BAC is committed to the evolution and development of our curriculum," said Julia Halevy, provost and academic vice president. "This is about the infusion of sustainability and health and well-being in learning, as we educate students to design environments that work for human beings."

Catalysts included Jennifer Aliber, principal and healthcare practice leader at Shepley Bulfinch; Janice Barnes, planning & strategies global leader at Perkins+Will; Valerie Fletcher, executive director at 
Institute for Human Centered Design; Jocelyn Frederick, national healthcare practice leader at Tsoi/Kobus & Associates; Ginés Garrido, principal
 at Garrido & Burgos Arquitectos; Dak Kopec, author and educator; Alex Johnson, Ph.D., provost  and VP for academic affairs
 at MGH Institute of Health Professions; Elizabeth Sheehan, Containers2Clinics; David Silverman, principal
 at Silverman-Trykowski Architects, Map Lab; and Wendy M. Weitzner, FACHE, of 
The Innova Group and a BAC overseer.