Architect links good building design to good health

December 3, 2013 10:00 AM

Dee Boling
dboling@tulane.edu

Building design can make a statement for a company, and it can set the tone for a city. According to Julie Eizenberg, who holds the Favrot Visiting Chair at the Tulane University School of Architecture, it can also help improve health and well-being.

Design techniques help Children's Institute in new building

The Otis Booth Campus of the Los Angeles-based Children’s Institute reframed an industrial building site to provide a blend of both clinical and enrichment services, making the space more familiar and friendly to children affected by violence. (Photo from Julie Eizenberg)

Eizenberg will share her ideas on Wednesday (Dec. 4) at 11:30 a.m. at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine as part of the D. W. Mitchell Lecture Series and the Provost’s Faculty Seminars in Interdisciplinary Research, in partnership with the Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences.

“Public health often doesn’t understand what we (as architects) can do for them,” she says. Architecture should be about more than just shelter and durability, she adds — it also can help to implement change.

Her talk, “If You Only Knew What Design Could Do: Using the Built Environment to Improve Health and Well-being,” will include a number of case studies. She will discuss one project for an affordable housing project that incorporated stairs in a way that was more organized and more fun, leading to increased use of the stairs over elevators.

Eizenberg has worked with the Otis Booth Campus of the Children’s Institute, a clinical services organization that provides outreach to children and families exposed to violence. By envisioning the nonprofit institute’s site as more of a community center and not just a building for individual services, the entire tone of the place changed. The organization was able to reach more families earlier than before, and the environment was more familiar and comfortable to the children served.

Eizenberg is the founding principal of Koning Eizenberg Architecture and has been co-teaching an upper-level design studio throughout the fall semester at Tulane.

Dee Boling is director of communications for the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

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