NY releases design guidelines to aid fitness

Associated Press / February 1, 2010

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NEW YORK - The city has come up with design guidelines to help architects and urban planners design buildings, plazas, and other spaces in ways that promote physical activity.

The Active Design Guidelines, developed with the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, cover outdoor design and overall building design.

“Architecture and health issues may not seem like overlapping areas, but the design of buildings, plazas, and other outdoor spaces can make a real difference in the level of physical activity they allow and promote,’’ Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement yesterday.

The guidelines include such strategies as encouraging bicycle use by incorporating bike parking in buildings, as well as making stairways convenient and accessible.

Others strategies include providing features that support being active, such as gyms, locker rooms, and water fountains. Buildings can also be designed to encourage people to walk to common spaces such as mailrooms and lunchrooms.

The guidelines are voluntary, but architects and planners designing public projects will be encouraged to use them.

Bloomberg has made public health a priority. The city’s health department has banned trans fats in restaurant meals and forced chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, and also issued guidelines for salt intake.