Bethany Madsen, 2017 Health Leader
Title: Architect – Project Manager
Organization: VIA Architecture
Location: Seattle, WA
Bethany Madsen is an Architect in Seattle who has been working on a variety of project types and scales for more than 15 years. With the belief that living densely is one of the most sustainable actions individuals can take to have a positive impact on climate change, she has focused on projects that help to create livable cities. To implement this, she has worked on diverse project types including commercial, retail, multifamily housing, civic, and transportation from early design through construction. Her interests include sustainable practices and land use polices, as well as, adaptive reuse of the existing building stock while valuing thoughtful elegant design solutions on all projects.
Additionally, Bethany is a LEED Accredited Professional and an alum of the 2013-2014 Urban Land Institute’s Center for Sustainable Leadership cohort. Afterward, she co-chaired a session on ‘Puget Sound as a Bio-Region’ with a focus on food systems and the impact of land use policies on food production, for a later cohort. She also enjoys cooking, fine dining, gardening, and reading about agricultural diversity and the impacts of food choices on health and the environment.
Why are you motivated to participate in the Health Leaders Network? How will your participation enhance your current and future work?
The intersection of health and the built environment is an area I have been focusing my professional and personal energy toward for quite some time. The policies that create health in the built environment align closely with those that create walkability, livability, resiliency, and sustainability. It seems that the biggest impact land use professionals can have in this realm, is to create healthy and livable communities by increasing density and services in urban environments, preventing sprawl, and allowing preservation of agricultural land.
Creating environments where activity is less of a concerted effort and more of a daily routine go far toward improving health outcomes for urban residents. Opportunities for everyday healthy activities, such as walking to the store, a neighbor’s home, or the park can all lead to healthier residents while increasing social capital. These strategies similarly provide freedom of mobility for all, including the young and the elderly who may not be able or willing to drive to daily destinations.
In addition, urban agriculture production and distribution can be a step towards building a greater connection between food and individual health. It may not be large scale production and it may not feed the entire population; but it does connect humans to natural systems and can be one of many strategies to move urban environments toward health and resiliency.
In this program, I hope to gain insight, knowledge, networks, and tools to turn these interests into tangible policies, solutions, and projects that will positively impact human and environmental health.