ULI’s 21 great ways to build healthy places!


Source: Urban Land Institute

Source: Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute recently released its Building Healthy Places Toolkit. The document

“outlines 21 practical and evidence-based recommendations that the development community can use to promote health at the building or project scale.”

The recommendations are broken into three categories, as shown below. While some are obvious and common (prohibiting smoking), others are unique, pragmatic, and insightful.

Physical activity

  • Incorporate a mix of land uses
  • Design well-connected street networks at a human scale
  • Provide sidewalks and enticing pedestrian-oriented streetscapes
  • Provide infrastructure to support biking
  • Design visible, enticing stairs to encourage everyday use
  • Install stair prompts and signage
  • Provide high quality spaces for multigenerational play and recreation
  • Build play spaces for children

Healthy food and drinking water

  •  Accommodate a grocery store
  • Host a farmers market
  • Promote healthy food retail
  • Promote onsite gardening and farming
  • Enhance access to drinking water

Healthy environmental and social well-being

  • Ban smoking
  • Use materials and products that support healthy indoor air quality
  • Facilitate proper ventilation and air flow
  • Maximize indoor lighting quality
  • Increase access to nature
  • Facilitate social engagement
  • Adopt pet-friendly policies


The two recommendations that caught this planner’s eye (underlined above) and would be very easy to implement, have to do with stairways/staircases. ULI is spot on that architectural designs too often push stairways off to the side or into a dark corner. These should be brought out into the open, made well-lit and enticing, as a visual cue whenever possible and practical. This is not only applicable indoors but in outdoor settings such as the magnificent 16th Avenue tiled staircase in San Francisco – shown below.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps of San Francisco - Source: tiledsteps.org

16th Avenue Tiled Steps of San Francisco – Source: tiledsteps.org

What a terrific recommendation (among the others) by ULI! Many great cities are fortunate enough to already have heavenly grand exterior stairway for pedestrian movement, including Odessa, Rome, Paris, Edinburgh, San Francisco (see above), and Seattle. More on these in a subsequent post. Cheers!


This entry was posted in Active transportation, adaptive reuse, Advocacy, Alternative transportation, Animals, architecture, bicycling, Biking, Bus transportation, cities, civics, civility, commerce, Communications, culture, density, diversity, downtown, economic development, economic gardening, education, energy, entrepreneurship, environment, fitness, fun, geography, health, historic preservation, Housing, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, nature, new urbanism, placemaking, planning, product design, recreation, revitalization, spatial design, sprawl, sustainability, technology, third places, tourism, traffic, trails, transit, transportation, Travel, urban planning, walking, zoning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to ULI’s 21 great ways to build healthy places!

  1. “Enticing stairs” is mostly an oxymoron to me, although recently stair-climbing seems to be therapeutic for me. The only real enticement is for some natural beauty they can take me to. Starved Rock State Park in Illinois has stairs – on trails – out the wazoo. They take hikers to beautiful places, but are everyone’s bane, because there are SO MANY. I think the CCC built them to prevent erosion, but they do ease the hike. If there are stairs on trails up the mountains in the tower karst landscapes in Southeast Asia, these would qualify as much more “enticing” – and even more of a chore to do.


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