April 25, 2016

Can well-designed point-of-decision prompts promote healthier choices by students? And can these choices then have a ripple effect on mental and physical health related to obesity? 

HKS’ Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE) and public health consulting firm Designing4Health received a research grant from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Upjohn Research Initiative to study the effect thoughtful design can have on healthy decision-making. 

This research study aims to address the challenge of obesogenic college environments, or environments that contain factors that support obesity, such as poor food choices, transit systems, park access, etc. The challenge, though, is not simply replacing unhealthy choices with healthy choices but also enabling students to make those choices.

“The team will study how we can make the healthy choice an easy choice through the design of critical point of decision prompts,” said Dr. Upali Nanda, director of research at HKS and executive director of the Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE). “The hypothesis is that well-designed point-of-decision prompts can promote healthier choices by students, which can have a ripple effect on mental and physical health related to obesity. At each point of decision, design can help/hinder the healthier choice.”

The AIA Upjohn Research Initiative, a joint program of the College of Fellows and the Board Knowledge Committee to support knowledge-sharing between practitioners and academicians, has announced the four projects selected to receive grants. The funds from the grant are matched with funding from HKS, Patcraft, McCarthy and DuPont.

“There is a need to collate the vast information in planning and public health domains on a range of successful point of decision prompts and translate it into architectural guidelines that help define the edge condition for critical point-of-decision prompts,” said Michelle Eichinger, MS, MPA, president, Designing4Health, LLC. “The researchers propose to develop a POD (point-of-decision) design guide and analysis tool.”

“We will kick off the research by hosting an ideation session in July with students, campus leadership, policymakers, designers and planners,” Nanda said. “We will share insights from our literature review and engage in interactive experience-mapping with participants to identify key decision points, and articulate ideas for architectural solutions that can aid healthy choices at those decision points.”

About HKS
HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top six architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $83 billion in more than 1,742 cities located in 88 countries. The firm operates from 25 offices worldwide. For more information, contact Trish Martineck at tmartineck@hksinc.com.

About Designing4Health
Designing4Health, LLC is a public health and planning consulting firm located in the Atlanta area of Georgia. Designing4Health has several projects throughout the country and provides expertise in health analysis for communities and planning projects, policy analysis, grant writing, strategic planning and program development. For more information, contact Michelle Eichinger at meichinger@live.com

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.

Posted in Education, Health