College of Architecture Named Charter Member of Research Group

Program among first to lead American Institute of Architects Design and Health Research Consortium.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) on Monday named Texas Tech University's Health and Design Research Institute in the College of Architecture as one of the 11 charter members to the AIA Design and Health Research Consortium. The Institute is composed of departments from both Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.


The consortium comprises 11 architecture schools and schools of public health throughout the country and is tasked with funding basic research on how design affects public health. It is a project of the AIA, the AIA Foundation and the Associate of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Andrew Vernooy, dean of the college, said this consortium will benefit not only the students of the college but of several different colleges throughout the Texas Tech University System. He said it will bring together areas such as the new Department of Public Health, the Institute of Environmental and Human Health, the Department of Design, the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics and the Health Organization and Management Program.

“We're delighted to be the initiator of the whole effort,” Vernooy said. “But it's particularly important to the system because this brings together both Texas Tech and the Health Sciences Center around a single effort to work with the American Institute of Architects. It is truly an interdisciplinary opportunity in the area of design and health that is being promoted by the AIA in an effort important to the future of the nation economically as well as in terms of health.”

Rain Gauge

Andrew Vernooy

According to the AIA, it and its partners will spend the next three years providing institutional support and capacity building to consortium members to promote collaboration through local and national partnerships. That will help members share knowledge and provide a way to share research activity at the AIA's website.

“The research teams chosen for this consortium include some of the nation's leading thinkers about the growing connections between design and public health,” said AIA CEO Robert Ivy. “We chose them because their research has the best potential for affecting policy across a wide swath of issues at the intersection of the built environment and public health.”

In a statement from the AIA, Texas Tech was chosen for its work to benefit more than 100 counties in West Texas. Its research focus is on the new uses of tele-health technologies, cost and benefit modeling for agriculture and health, community planning and design influence on obesity and chronic diseases, cost benefit metrics on the high rates of occupational and personal injury in rural and urban populations, loud noise disparity in rural populations and technology and social connections.

“It is important for us because it provides new opportunities for our professors and graduate students for research and extended scholarship opportunities,” Vernooy said.

The AIA says it has organized its design and health initiative around six evidence-based approaches architects are able to influence through design practice and policy that recognize the physical environment's effects on health opportunities and helps create positive health behaviors.

These approaches are:

  • Environmental quality
  • Natural systems
  • Physical activity
  • Safety
  • Sensory environments
  • Social connectedness

“It allows both our master's of architecture students and our master's of science students to get certificates in design and health,” Vernooy said. “The reason that is important is because the health care sector of the economy for architecture is the biggest sector right now, and it's only growing. It provides them the experience they can use to get good jobs with some of the best health care designers in the country.”

Other members of the consortium are: University of Oregon; Drexel University; NewSchool of Architecture & Design, Innovation Design Science; University of Miami School of Architecture and Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Services; University of Florida; Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture; Texas A&M University Center for Health Systems & Design, College of Architecture; University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design and Planning; and University of Arizona Institute on Place and Wellbeing.

Tommie J. Huckabee College of Architecture

Architecture bridges the sciences with the arts. The Huckabee College of Architecture offers dual degree programs with the College of Engineering and the Rawls College of Business.

Students can pursue career paths in design, construction, real estate development, construction product development and sales.


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