Joint Research Initiative Centers on Design as a Catalyst for Improving Health of Communities; Builds on AIA "Decade of Design" CGI Commitment NEW YORK, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To address the urgent need for solutions to ongoing urban challenges, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's ( MIT) Center for Advanced Urbanism today announced a new research collaboration focused on how design can improve the health of urban communities. The collaboration supports AIA efforts through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Decade of Design. The announcement came at the start of the CGI Winter Meeting. The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) figures prominently in the search for better models of urban growth. Its expertise will center on articulating methods and projects that integrate architecture, landscape, ecology, transportation engineering, politics and political philosophy, technology, and real estate on scales that range from complex regional systems to local communities and neighborhoods. "The MIT Center for Advance Urbanism's commitment brings immediate focus, energy, and structure to our decade-long effort," said AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. "With the intellectual resources and recognition that the center brings, we can tap the tremendous talent of our profession to address these public health challenges." "If you look at the issue of urbanism from the social point of view or the economic point of view, or if you look at it from a health point of view, it's clear we have to have new theoretical positions and assumptions about how to move forward," says Adele Naude Santos, Dean of the School of Architecture + Planning at MIT. "When it comes to urban health, there is no greater issue facing our profession. We look forward to making our collaboration with the AIA a resounding success." More than half of the world's inhabitants live in urban areas, and this is projected to grow to 70 percent by 2050. Massive urbanization can negatively affect human and environmental health in unique ways, and many of those effects can be addressed through the realm of design. Some of the great health challenges over the next century, including the prevalence of obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression, among others, are both increasing at an alarming rate and frequently linked to physical design and urban environmental factors.