Report from ULI San Francisco and ULI Northwest Highlights Five Strategies for Promoting Healthy Lifestyles Through Improved Design of the Built Environment

San Francisco and Seattle (August 19, 2015) – ULI San Francisco and ULI Northwest today announced the release of “Building Healthy Places Through Innovation and Exchange”, a report from a two-part West Coast exchange between these District Councils of the Urban Land Institute. The report, which examined real estate projects and best practices in each region, outlines how the built environment can have a positive impact on health through design, policy and education strategies. Concluding a year-long research and collaboration effort, the report provides planners, designers, developers and public sector officials with five areas of recommendations to promote health and healthy lifestyles in a variety of real estate development projects, from housing to office and commercial space.


“’Building Healthy Places Through Innovation and Exchange‘ points to the need for smart development strategies, backed by good policies and adequate public and private investment,” said Howard Frumkin, dean of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and a participant in the exchange. “Innovators across the spectrum of real estate are relearning and reinventing how great cities work, and what they are finding is that development decisions and health outcomes are increasingly linked.”

The Innovation Exchange included two 2014 study trips in the San Francisco and Seattle areas, bringing together over 50 leaders in development, planning and design, government, and healthcare. In each city, participants heard from a range of professionals, activists and entrepreneurs who are creating urban places that support health.

“A fascinating finding from the joint research is that a number of real estate projects already promote healthy lifestyles, and there is great interest in learning these best-practices to apply in other, new projects,” said SWA principal Elizabeth Shreeve of Sausalito, CA, another participant in the exchange. “Project sponsors are seeing that developments with marketable health-related amenities are differentiated from the competition.”

ULI’s Five Major Themes for Building Healthy Places
Five themes emerged during the Building Healthy Places Innovation Exchange, to increase the built environment’s positive impact on health:

  • Transportation strategies set the stage for health
  • Healthy food and open space bring communities together
  • Health care organizations make excellent partners
  • Health is driving innovation for home and workplace
  • Place-making brings all of these together

Projects highlighted in the report include:
— from the San Francisco Bay Area: The Dogpatch live/work neighborhood in San Francisco; Oakland’s Fruitvale Village; Silicon Valley’s Champion Station and the Intuit and Google campuses;
— from the Seattle area: Via6, Microsoft’s Redmond campus; the Bullitt Center, Pike Place Market and Central Waterfront Redevelopment in Seattle; and Bainbridge Island’s Grow Community.

In a San Francisco example of place-making and open spaces bringing communities together, the Dogpatch live/work neighborhood has built streets and parks that support health through home grown activism and a new community enterprise called a Green Benefits District (GBD). Higher levels of density envisioned in long-range planning come with an increased need for maintenance and operations of public places. The Dogpatch/Northwest Potrero Hill GBD program helps launch a neighborhood-controlled tax assessment district, one that will maintain parks, gardens and green spaces above the City’s baseline services. Dogpatch’s American Industrial Center (AIC) incorporates themes of healthy food and health-driving innovation in the workplace. A four-block-long industrial building once filled with canneries, AIC now houses more than 300 small and medium-sized enterprises. Management places special emphasis on nurturing local food production and sustainable processing. The San Francisco Food and Beverage Industry Cluster initiative supports healthy food systems through land leasing and land use policies aiming to bring local food and beverage producers tougher with consumers, and creating sustainable jobs.

“The Dogpatch is an incredible mixed-use neighborhood with easy access to transit, a rich diversity of historic and new residences, home grown businesses, and established and new parks and playgrounds,” according to Kim Diamond, Principal at 7×7 Development. “With the Green Benefits District, the Dogpatch has the opportunity to be a great example of planning for a healthy, sustainable neighborhood open to and supportive of a diverse group of residents, workers and visitors.”

In Seattle, Via6 is a prime example of healthy lifestyles and open space bringing community together at a high-rise apartment complex. Designed to serve the burgeoning urban population in the tech sector, the base of the two-tower building is given over to retail, restaurant and takeout businesses dedicated to fresh, organic, and locally-sourced food. An open mezzanine reaches over commercial areas, extending the meeting areas and work nooks, and an indoor/outdoor roof deck is populated by a combination of singles, couples and families. Via6 also incorporates a transportation strategy to set the stage for health as a bicyclist’s paradise. There are extensive indoor bike racks, handy tool stand, bike washing facility, and access to bike repair at its retail corner. Onsite amenities include a luxurious locker room and shower facilities aimed for non-residents to help build a biking community in the neighborhood. Commuters to downtown Seattle pay a modest fee for 24-hour access to secure bike room, bike drop-off for repairs, and locker rooms.

“We were intrigued by the site having a walkability score of 100 out of 100 and being close to Westlake, one of the main transit hubs in the Seattle area,” said Matt Rosauer, principal and project manager, Pine Street Group L.L.C. “From there we set out to build a community, instead of just an apartment, where you’re encouraged to use the public spaces of the building and neighborhood as your living room and make friends with your neighbors.”

About the ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative
Through its Building Healthy Places Initiative, ULI leverages the power of its global networks to shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities. For more information on ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative, visit Funding for the joint ULI San Francisco and ULI Northwest report was generously provided by an Urban Innovation Grant from the Urban Land Institute Foundation, to launch innovative public-private partnerships advancing the responsible use of land in building healthy, thriving communities.

About Urban Land Institute
Founded in 1936, the Urban Land Institute is a non-profit organization of land-use professionals serving 35,000 members worldwide ( with pragmatic land use expertise and education. ULI San Francisco serves the greater Bay Area and includes more than 2,100 members ( ULI Northwest serves Washington State and Oregon and includes more than 900 members (