Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Public health / Population health

Pioneering projects meet new standard for community-scale holistic health

By Andrew Sansom 30 Jan 2020 0

The Center for Active Design (CfAD), operator of the Fitwel Certification System, has announced that four trailblazing projects have certified through Fitwel Community – a new evidence-based standard for optimising holistic health benefits at the neighbourhood scale.

Four developments – led by MACH, Crosstown Development, ATCO Properties & Management, and Lendlease – emerged as leaders in piloting the Fitwel Community Scorecard to achieve certification. From today (30 January), Fitwel Community is now being made available for widespread public use. 

“As a mission-driven organisation, our goal is to foster market transformation in order to build health for all,” says Joanna Frank, president and CEO of the CfAD. “Fitwel Community unites CfAD’s core expertise in healthy neighbourhood design with Fitwel’s user-friendly digital tools, and responds to the market demand for health-promoting strategies tailored to larger, site-scale projects. We deeply appreciate the trust and leadership of our pilot users, who partnered with us to create this impactful standard.” 

Fitwel Community strategies were identified based on findings from the CfAD’s database of 5000-plus scholarly studies, and draw from distinguished, evidence-based resources devoted to improving health outcomes, including New York City’s Active Design Guidelines, as well as the CfAD’s Assembly: Civic Design Guidelines – described as the first publication of its kind to investigate links between public space and civic life indicators, such as community trust and stewardship. Building on this foundation, Fitwel Community is said to offer a deep understanding of how neighbourhood design and operations can improve all aspects of community health, and radiate positive impacts far beyond a project’s boundary. 

Cutting-edge community health

The first four Fitwel-certified communities represent existing projects (achieving built certification) as well as those in design phase (achieving design certification), and reflect diverse geographies, demographics and socioeconomic conditions. Collectively, these four projects will impact the wellbeing of more than 20,000 residents and employees when fully occupied. 

Quartier des lumières in Montréal, Québec, led by MACH and designed by Lemay, achieved Fitwel’s highest achievement, a 3 Star Rating, for its design certification. Architects Lemay embraced Fitwel Community early on in the design of this 20-acre site, which is anchored by the iconic Radio-Canada tower. Quartier des lumières promises to elevate pedestrian use, creating a lively streetscape environment where pedestrians are prioritised, and where social diversity and environmental sustainability create a foundation for a neighbourhood devoted to holistic health. The project’s downtown location helps boost the Quartier’s connections to a wide range of adjacent public amenities. 

“The Quartier’s core design principles naturally aligned with Fitwel strategies related to housing affordability, food equity, community resiliency, and more,” says Hugo Lafrance, Fitwel ambassador and sustainability director at Lemay. 

Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, Tennessee has fully realised a vision to transform a long-closed Sears, Roebuck & Co distribution centre into a dynamic vertical urban village embodying elements of a thriving neighbourhood. The destination’s achievement of a 3 Star Rating for its built certification is credited to the collaboration among Crosstown Development’s partners, including Church Health, Crosstown Arts, architects and planners at LRK and Dialog, and the community as a whole. Anchored by the arts, educational incubators, and a destination for holistic healthcare, the 1.2 million-square-foot site’s public interior atria and exterior greenspaces have become pivotal gathering places for the greater community. 

“This visionary team has re-imagined an iconic local landmark into a creative commons that celebrates our diverse culture while promoting health, wellness, education and the arts,” says Rogean Cadieux-Smith, AIA Fitwel ambassador at LRK. “A host of community amenities coupled with robust year-round programming have contributed to the Fitwel certification, including innovative healthcare organisations, a high school, a theatre, artist residency, and affordable housing, as well as community gardens, teaching kitchens, and on-site healthy food retailers.” 

Camp North End in Charlotte, North Carolina, led by ATCO Properties & Management, earned a 2 Star Rating for its design certification by transforming a collection of factories and warehouses into a district for innovation, creativity and community. Camp North End has created a vibrant, safely walkable public realm, and installed artfully lit, thoughtfully designed congregation spaces – all punctuated with a full roster of day-to-night programming. 

“It’s our goal to provide Charlotte residents and visitors alike with access to economic opportunity, collaborative gathering spaces, and community-driven programming,” says Damon Hemmerdinger, co-president of ATCO Properties & Management. “We’re also pleased to be implementing innovative Fitwel policy approaches that will reinforce the health and vitality of our community over the long term – ranging from a comprehensive public space maintenance strategy to walking meeting paths, which increase creativity and productivity among our tenants’ employees.” 

The fourth and final pioneering project is Horizon Uptown in Aurora, Colorado, led by global integrated property and infrastructure group Lendlease. Earning a 2 Star Rating for its design certification, the project initially served as an early prototype for Fitwel Community, developed in a partnership between Lendlease and CfAD. Horizon Uptown’s 503-acre mixed-use community raises the bar for masterplanned developments, by visibly embedding health and wellness as a project priority via enticing, walkable streetscapes, a variety of parks and community gathering spaces, and trails that offer connections to natural landscapes. 

“Horizon Uptown emphasises pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, access to quality open spaces, and an efficient parking strategy,” says Eleni Reed, head of sustainability – Americas. “We engaged our target market early in the design scheme to shape future programming offerings that will reinforce a cohesive sense of community identity.” 

The Community Scorecard will be released for public use along with a new Commercial Sites Scorecard tailored to large-scale commercial developments.