2015 ULI J.C. Nichols Prize Winner—Lord Richard Rogers
Lord Richard Rogers has been named the 2015 recipient of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.
The Building Healthy Places Initiative member spotlight highlights the work and expertise of a ULI member working at the intersection of health and the built environment.
As Chairman of Mithun, Bert Gregory FAIA leads Mithun’s strategic initiatives, governance, and research & development efforts. Under his 15 year leadership as Chairman & CEO, Bert led the firm to international recognition for healthy, performance based design, positive for people and place.
A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the United States Green Building Council, Bert plays an active Design Partner role on projects with a focus on work in the urban realm, including transit oriented development, mixed use, civic, workplace, and urban design. Bert’s project design leadership has resulted in four American Institute of Architects (AIA) COTE Top 10 Green Project awards, two ASLA National Honor Awards, an AIA National Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design, and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Award of Excellence. He also serves on the advisory group for ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative.
How have you seen the focus on human health evolve within the design, land use, and real estate fields over the past 5 to 10 years?
The health impact of sprawl and unhealthy buildings was documented in the 1990’s through early Public Health research projects and organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), U.K.’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM®), and the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU). The scientific method continued to advance the discussion through efforts of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and detailed research projects such as King County Washington’s 2005 Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality and Health (LUTAQH) Study by Dr. Larry Frank – where I was fortunate to be on the advisory committee.
The protocol for creating healthy places is still in its early development, but the groundbreaking efforts of the early rating systems, Dr. Richard Jackson, Dr. Larry Frank, Dr. Howard Frumkin and others cannot be underestimated. These combined efforts have impacted land use, zoning, and local building codes at the policy level.
Today, the research continues and market demand accelerates. Advanced criteria programs such as the Well Building Standard® and the Living Building Challenge™ are taking healthy real estate to another level, with early projects using these systems being pursued by market leaders. To further help mainstream healthy design, Mithun is working with the University of Virginia and the USGBC on integrating health into the LEED® system. As leading real estate companies adopt healthy planning, urban design and building design, ULI’s Building Healthy Places initiative is an important component – contributing research, education and ultimately, to market transformation.
What development project that you have worked on do you think has had the biggest impact on providing opportunities for improving health outcomes, and why?
Mithun works throughout North America on architectural, urban design, landscape architecture and interior design projects. Designing healthy, vibrant, experiential places extends to urban design projects, parks and open spaces, neighborhoods, buildings and interior spaces where we help reach our client’s goals. We are fortunate to have clients on the leading edge of creating healthy buildings, campuses, and neighborhoods – including meeting the most advanced rating system criteria.
Although Mithun has seven Living Building Challenge™ projects in design, or constructed, perhaps one of Mithun’s the most influential urban design projects is the mixed-use, mixed-income, Mariposa neighborhood redevelopment project for the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) at RTD’s 10th and Osage station. In working with DHA and the residents of the South Lincoln Park Homes community, health became the driving and organizing force for the design of the project. A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) was performed that found higher-than-average indicators of heart disease, as well as a high percentage of community members who were overweight or obese. A customized Healthy Development Measurement Tool was created (originally developed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health) to evaluate and guide the healthy urban design and building construction. Positive results have included a safer, more compact and walkable neighborhood, a healthy café, community gardens, a bike share program, active design standards that promote the use of stairs, and educational programs for the residents.
Where do you see the fields of real estate and land use needing to focus efforts in order to ensure that health is at the forefront when making project decisions?
Land use policy needs to continue to advance compact, walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, safe and transit-oriented development as fundamental to healthy living. This is consistent with market demands and with ULI’s membership mission to “provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.” ULI members have allies in the health care community, as health care providers understand that prevention is easier than the cure, and good design can be healthy. This understanding of the impact of the built environment on health is rapidly transforming Schools of Public Health and Architecture and Design Schools, with several universities now offering a combined Public Health and Design degree.
The ULI real estate community has shown tremendous leadership in advancing smart land planning, energy efficiency, ecosystem health, mass transportation, the responsible use of water, and sustainable buildings. As global leaders in real estate, ULI member’s fundamental question, in addition to incorporating advanced sustainable practices at the start of every project, should now be, “How can I help create the best possible healthy place for people?” Charging the team with this question, and seeing what strategies can be incorporated, may help make your project more market-relevant, and quite possibly a market leader.