New York City's health kick isn't just limited to cigarettes, calorie labels and a possible sugar tax. Mayor Bloomberg and his forward-thinking administration are thinking carefully about how good "active design" -- of sidewalks, streets and buildings -- can not only cut electricity and carbon and brighten up urban spaces, but make New Yorkers fitter and happier. And not a moment too soon: while New Yorkers walk more than most urbanites, the city's rate of obesity is on the rise.
Last week, the city fired the latest salvo in its effort to design fitness into the city with the Active Design Guidelines, a handbook of best practices for designers, private developers, contractors and the others who can help build a more fit city.
After the release at the Center for Architecture, I spoke with the city's health and design commissioners about the reasons for active design, and the chances it will take root in New York and beyond.Gorgeous and informative, the handbook's packed with the kind of examples (the Times building, the new Cooper Union) and data on health and design that should make it a bible for smart designers around the world. (The Twitter version? Less emphasis on the elevator, accentuate the opportunities for walking.)
David Burney, head of New York's Dept. of Design and Construction
Thomas Farley, New York's Health Commissioner