How Design Can Change Your Health

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mayor Bloomberg is promoting a plan that encourages building designers to promote physical activity, like taking the stairs. Roger Duffy, partner at the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, discusses what constitutes "active architecture" and how it can make a difference in peoples' lives.


Roger Duffy

Comments [11]

This sounds like a good idea to me-- as long as elevators and escalators will not become any less accessible or reliably functional for those who need them.

I have long been bothered by the way even perfectly healthy, able-bodied, young people routinely take the elevator to go up or down even just one or two floors. And, in trying to opt to take the stairs, I have found that many, if not most, buildings-- at least commercial and newer ones-- are indeed designed/ operated in a way that absolutely does discourage (if not all-but /forbids/) the use of the stairways.

I do find Bloomberg quite reprehensible, for any number of reasons. But I am generally favorably-, or at least sympathetically-, inclined when it comes to the mayor's health initiatives such as those regarding smoking, trans-fats, or even banning absurdly-sized sugar-drinks.

But no matter how many public health victories Bloomberg may be able to claim, as long as he remains (at least) as complicit as anyone else in the ideologically-driven whitewashing, sanction and effective promotion of an inherently unhygienic, anatomically and physiologically unsound, harmful, (psuedo-)sex act (buggery; anal penetration) that spreads deadly disease far more than any other, to call him the "Public Health Mayor" is nothing short of Orwellian.

Jul. 19 2013 12:18 PM
David from Fairfield CT

Truth and Beauty from Bk

Have you ever visited a gym or park in the suburbs? Believe me, they are always packed with beautiful people working out.

Jul. 19 2013 12:02 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

alexandra from Brooklyn Heights,

That's because the staircase is most often masked to look like a janitors/utility closet at the far end of a hallway.

If the door to the staircase were framed like an elevator, people could see it easily.

Jul. 19 2013 10:47 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

If you think that architecture in Manhattan is bad for health, take a close look at the burbs. People leave their air conditioned homes through the laundry room door, directly into the garage, then get in their cars, open the garage doors automatically and drive out, closing the garage doors automatically. They drive to shopping, dry cleaning (drive thru), banks (drive thru), go back home through the automatic garage door, into the garage, close the garage door automatically and back into the air conditioned house without setting foot on dry land. At least we city dwellers walk to and from these activities.

On the other hand, the stairs where I work have helped me rehabilitate an atrophied quadriceps that was a result of knee surgery.

All in all, a balance lifestyle is best.

Jul. 19 2013 10:46 AM
The Truth from Becky

A walk in the park, same results

Jul. 19 2013 10:44 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

I used to walk between floors regularly in my midtown Manhattan office, using the building and fire stairs -- partly for health and to feel superior to my colleagues, but mostly because it was faster (the real appeal to impatient New Yorkers). I'm also a New School graduate (M.A. in urban affairs & policy analysis); maybe a connection?

One counter note re communication staircases -- the Fire Department has strict regulations on them, as they can be dangerous in a fire if not installed per the NYC code.

Jul. 19 2013 10:43 AM
alexandra from Brooklyn Heights

Roger Duffy is too hopeful. Anyone who's taken an elevator in high rise office buildings in NYC experiences all the time employees traveling between their company's floors taking the elevator for even one go down!

Jul. 19 2013 10:39 AM

I'm promoting a new product
A treadmill/urinal

Jul. 19 2013 10:37 AM

The suburbs can't afford these architects.

Jul. 19 2013 10:35 AM

That's OK if you're able-bodied and healthy. What about those who are handicapped, or recovering from surgery and was told by the DR that they can't take a stairs until they can. Removing elevators would also make it very difficult to transport heavy items. But remember, removal of elevators will be a violation of the rights of wheelchair bound individuals.

Jul. 19 2013 10:34 AM
ann from Manhattan

Why in the world don't people walk up and down on the escalators? It drives me crazy that people get on and STAND, often not even on the right side, so I have to constantly say, "excuse me," because I always walk them.

Jul. 19 2013 10:32 AM

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