2013 Highlights from the Center for Active Design

1. Launching Model Legislation in NYC

In July 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the Active Design Executive Order, a monumental piece of legislation that prioritizes health and requires the use of active design strategies in new City-funded development projects. The Center’s Policy Director, Reena Agarwal, played a key role as a lead author and facilitator in the development of the Executive Order, collaborating closely with leadership from the NYC Health Department and more than ten City agencies.

2. Sharing Practical Solutions

The Center strives to be a global resource for practitioners and we’ve come far in our first year by launching a newsletter, blog, and website, which has had visitors from over 150 countries! At the same time, we have continued to cultivate our relationships with local experts, collaborating with NYC partners in the publication of two Active Design supplements on affordable housing and sidewalk design. Center staff also served as contributors for two key partner publications: the Active Design Guide for Community Groups published by the NYC Health Department, and the Urban Land Institute’s Ten Principles for Building Healthy Places.

3. Training Practitioners

With new legislation, new publications, and growing interest in the relationship between Active Design concepts in their day-to-day work. Suzanne Nienaber, the Center’s Partnership Director, organized numerous training sessions, webinars, and workshops over the past year, reaching well over 1,800 professionals. We tailored these events to specific audiences, such as City staff who are responsible for implementing the Mayoral Executive Order, or affordable housing developers interested in improving the health of their tenants.

4. Expanding the Global Conversation

Responding to the growing demand for Active Design, the Center participated in conferences from Seattle to Oslo to Melbourne, while undertaking in-depth technical assistance with a few key communities.

  • Executive Director Joanna Frank facilitated London’s Fit Cities Fit World Conference with the Greater London Authority, to coalesce a multi-sector approach to future development.
  • We also worked closely with the Region of Peel in Canada, by supporting a variety of pilot projects addressing outdoor play, stair use, and food policy. In one project, we led the process of transforming a large parking lot into an innovative space that encourages outdoor recreation.
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