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In the 19th and early 20th centuries, architects and urban reformers helped to defeat infectious diseases like cholera and tuberculosis by designing better buildings, streets, neighborhoods, clean water systems, and parks. In the 21st century, designers can again play a crucial role in combating the most rapidly growing public health epidemics of our time: obesity and its impact on related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Today, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet are second only to tobacco as the main causes of premature death in the United States. A growing body of research suggests that evidence-based architectural and urban design strategies can increase regular physical activity and healthy eating. Active design is critical to addressing obesity and its related diseases, the fastest growing epidemics of our time, while also supporting the goal of sustainability. The Active Design Guidelines provides architects and urban designers with a manual of strategies for creating healthier buildings, streets, and urban spaces, based on the latest academic research and best practices in the field.


  • This webinar will address urban design strategies for creating neighborhoods, streets, and outdoor spaces that encourage walking, bicycling, and active transportation and recreation.
  • Building design strategies for promoting active living where we work and live and play—for example, through the placement and design of stairs, elevators, and indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Discussion of synergies between active design and sustainable design initiatives such as LEED and PlaNYC.


Joyce Lee, Department of Design and Construction
Telephone: 718-391-2042
Joyce Lee is the Director of the Active Design Program at the New York City Department of Design and Construction, a City agency with a $5+ billion construction program. The Active Design Guidelines most recently won the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Achievement Overall Excellence Award. She oversees multi-agency efforts to advance health in the built environment in conjunction with the City’s PlaNYC and Design + Construction Excellence programs. Prior to this position, she was the Chief Architect at the New York City Office of Management and Budget. In the City Chartered Asset Management Program, she led consultants and staff efforts in the survey assessment of major public buildings, including libraries, schools, courthouses, police precincts, firehouses, hospitals, health centers, and museums as well as waterfront and infrastructure facilities. Joyce regularly collaborates with public and private experts to broaden educational opportunities for the profession. She is both a US Green Building Council member and a LEED accredited professional.

Karen Lee, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene/Built Environment
Telephone: 212-361-4191
Karen K. Lee, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, currently heads the Built Environment Program at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Lee is the lead for the NYC Health Dept in its work with NYC DDC, DOT and City Planning, in the development of the Active Design Guidelines, published in January 2010. Dr. Lee is also Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health, a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Non-Communicable Disease Policy. Dr. Lee has worked in public health departments in Canada, and previously served as Chair of the Research and Evaluation Committee of a World Health Organization Country-wide Integrated Non-communicable Disease Initiative (CINDI) demonstration site in Canada. Before coming to NYC, she was with the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where she worked in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The CDC epidemiology field team led by Dr. Lee for the investigation of obesity-related environmental factors in West Virginia was awarded the US Public Health Service Unit Commendation Award for outstanding contributions.

Robin Guenther, Perkins & Will
Telephone: 212.251.7006
Robin Guenther is a principal at Perkins+Will and a national leader in the conversation linking public health, regenerative design and sustainability, Robin synthesizes newly developing ideas and diverse groups to further the values she promotes. Robin is particularly skilled at achieving consensus for sustainable ideas, a quality valued by clients as well as the many advocacy groups with whom she works. Her work has helped shape healthier, more welcoming facilities for nearly every medical institution in New York City. Robin joined Perkins+Will when the firm she founded, Guenther 5 Architects, merged with the New York office. Robin’s many accomplishments include the second LEED certified healthcare project in the world, the Discovery Center. She was the principal author of the Green Guide for Health Care , the most commonly used method of tracking sustainability in healthcare spaces today. Her book, Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, was released in 2008 and she is currently working with the US Green Building Council to create the LEED for Healthcare Reference Guide. Robin was the recipient of the 2005 Changemaker Award from The Center for Health Design for her efforts in improving and supporting the environment.

Webinar speakers have no financial or other interest in the sponsoring company and the sponsor has had no input into the content of the presentation.

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