From Brooklyn to the Bronx, from San Antonio to Cincinnati, communities and organizations across the United States are tackling heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases with a dose of powerful medicine: active design. Organized by AIA New York, with the Center for Architecture, their groundbreaking 'FitNation' exhibition. brings together for the first time 33 projects in 15 states and the District of Columbia that showcase the ways design, policy, and grassroots strategies are promoting physical activity as part of daily life. The event began this week and concludes on August 8. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.
FitNation is inspired by New York City’s Active Design Guidelines and the annual Fit City conference, which is a partnership between AIA New York and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. From traditional instances of active design like central stairs and biking initiatives, to more radical interventions like parking space “parklets,” portable pools and hydrant-tapped water fountains, and scrap wood swings, featured projects encompass many budgets and sizes. Each are tagged with words that capture the active design principles illustrated: Network, Grassroots, Re-Purpose, Climb, Move, Ride, Connect, Play, and Graze.
A large-scale example included is the Atlanta BeltLine (Move / Ride / Connect / Network / Grassroots / Re-Purpose). An ongoing project that began in 2008, it is now one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment and transportation projects in the United States. Its 22 miles of streetcars, 33 miles of multi-use paths, and 1,300 acres of public green-space has reconnected 45 neighborhoods, promoting many modes of active transportation.
The Red Swing Project (Play / Grassroots / Re-Purpose), on the other hand, is reinvigorating public spaces in Austin, TX, and locations worldwide with simple components. Begun by University of Texas at Austin architecture students, the open-source installation – scrap wood, red paint, and rock climbing rope – make it inexpensive and replicable by diverse communities.
Right here in New York City, projects include the Riverpark Farm – a moveable milk-crate farm built on a stalled construction site in Manhattan designed by ORE Design + Technology that supplies the Tom Colicchio-owned Riverpark Restaurant – and the pop-up High Line Rink sponsored by UNIQLO and designed by HWKN that reinvigorated the park’s northern terminus with active recreation. There are ten New York projects, along with others in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. A complete project list is below.
The message is that whether it is making stairs more visible, developing greenways, or providing inviting streetscapes for pedestrians and bicyclists, there are many ways that design choices can provide opportunities to burn more calories through the enjoyment of an enhanced environment. And, that active design can be integrated into the largest plan for a region, or the smallest site in town.
Curated and designed by 2012 AIANY New Practices New York winner Abruzzo Bodziak Architects, with graphic design by the renowned firm Pentagram, the exhibition presents each project in a fresh, contemporary format. It is also planned that the exhibition will travel to architecture centers in the cities included, and beyond.
Event Organizers: AIA New York, with the Center for Architecture
Location: New York, United States
Curator: Abruzzo Bodziak Architects
Exhibition Design: Abruzzo Bodizak Architects and Pentagram
Graphic Design: Pentagram