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Cities / Healthy Cities

Unveiling of projects piloting new neighbourhood-level Fitwel standard

By Andrew Sansom 02 Aug 2019 0

The Center for Active Design (CfAD), operator of the Fitwel Certification System, has announced nine of the leaders piloting Fitwel Community, a new standard for optimising holistic health benefits in neighbourhood-scale projects.

Spanning the public and private sectors, these early adopters include Fitwel Champion Kilroy Realty Corporation, and the first Fitwel Community municipal user, the City of Vancouver, Washington. 

The Fitwel Community Scorecard builds on a healthy community prototype developed by the CfAD for Lendlease in 2018. This prototype informed the planning, design, and operational priorities of Lendlease’s Horizon Uptown masterplan, a 503-acre, mixed-use community in Aurora, Colorado. 

“By underpinning Horizon Uptown’s design with research and community input, Lendlease continues to demonstrate its ability to create communities that offer a dynamic sense of place, are people-oriented, and promote mental and physical wellbeing,” said Eleni Reed, head of sustainability, Americas at Lendlease. 

The CfAD consulted with Lendlease on optimising quality of life for Horizon Uptown, and to ensure that design and programming reflect the priorities of the target market. This collaborative initiative combined insights on local health and quality of life priorities with the global evidence base of Fitwel. The masterplan development emphasises pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, access to quality open spaces, and programming that strengthens community trust, social bonds and civic participation. 

“The Community Scorecard brings the CfAD’s core expertise in neighbourhood design and development to the Fitwel certification standard, allowing us to share this knowledge at scale, and to impact projects around the world,” says Joanna Frank, president and CEO at the CfAD. “We’re grateful to our pilot partners for their leadership in creating market transformation at the neighbourhood scale.”

Pilot partner projects

Horizon Uptown joins the first group of participants in the 2019 Fitwel Community Pilot whose insights will contribute to a publicly available scorecard, anticipated for release in January 2020. The others are:

  • Camp North End, Charlotte, North Carolina – led by ATCO Properties, this project is said to be breathing new life into a former Army base just outside the central business district, transforming the city’s largest assemblage of historic factories and warehouses into a district for innovation, creativity and community. 
  • Crosstown Concourse, Memphis, Tennessee – non-profit Crosstown
    Arts and LRK teamed up to transform the shuttered Sears and Roebuck, Co distribution centre into a vertical urban village and a community place to meet and create;
  • The Farmer’s Co-Op site at 417 MLK, Fayetteville, Arkansas – this will be reimagined by Specialized Real Estate Group as a mixed-use centre, connecting to a vibrant, multi-use trail, creekside recreation, and the city’s cultural arts corridor. 
  • The Heights District, Vancouver, Washington – led by the City of Vancouver, GGLO and VIA, this project aims to transform an underused mid-century mall site into a vibrant, connected neighbourhood centre, weaving together parks and open space, streets, transit, and a diversity of other uses, including a broad spectrum of mixed-income housing. 
  • One Paseo, San Diego, California – this project, led by Kilroy Realty, is described as a vibrant addition to the surrounding neighbourhood, providing a next-generation lifestyle centre with an emphasis on community spirit. 
  • The Plaza at Santa Monica, California, by Clarett West and OMA– this scheme aims to reshape an entire downtown block as an iconic, mixed-use community hub, infused with specialty retail, cultural spaces, and a marquee public plaza. 
  • Quartier des Lumières, Montréal, Québec – led by MACH and designed by Lemay, this project will reinvent a 20-acre site anchored by the iconic Radio-Canada tower, forming a people-focused mixed-use neighbourhood with enlivened streets and an emphasis on environmental harmony and social diversity; and 
  • Silo City, in Buffalo, New York, by Generation Development Group– an initiative aiming to reclaim an industrial grain silo complex for the city’s arts scene, offering a sustainability-focused, mixed-use, mixed-income, multigenerational housing model for creatives on the banks of the Buffalo River. 

Strategies within the Fitwel Community Scorecard were identified based on an analysis of more than 5000 research studies, as well as a trove of evidence-based resources. Each strategy impacts at least one of Fitwel’s seven health-impact categories (increases physical activity; promotes occupant safety; reduces morbidity and absenteeism; supports social equity for vulnerable populations; instils feelings of wellbeing; impacts surrounding community health; and enhances access to healthy foods). 

Pilot participant projects are diverse in geography, demographics and socioeconomic indicators, but they’re also described as unified in their commitment to fostering equitable access to a vibrant public realm via health-supporting streets, parks, plazas, and social gathering spaces.