Robert Ivy’s Mission To Improve Public Health Through Architectural Design

Robert Ivy is one of the most influential figures in the world of architecture. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a position that he has held since 2011. Under Robert’s leadership, AIA has transformed itself to best serve the architecture profession in the 21st Century. Beyond streamlining AIA’s governance toward improved decision-making, building a digital-first technology infrastructure and launching a public awareness campaign, Robert has guided the organization to shifting resources in order to help architects address important global issues including climate change, sustainability and architectural design and its impact on public health.

Born in Columbus, MS, Robert attended college at Sewanee: The University of the South, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in English. After graduation, he pursued his passion for architecture, attending Tulane University and obtaining his Master’s Degree in Architecture. Robert had a long and distinguished career prior to his appointment in his current position with AIA. In 1996 he became the Editor in Chief of Architectural Record and in 2003 became Vice President and Editorial Director of McGraw-Hill Construction Media. Under Robert’s guidance, Architectural Record became the most widely read architectural journal in the world.

Robert’s commitment to important issues was recently expounded on in his article with Huffington Post titled Architects of Health. In the article, Robert discusses the ways the architectural field and the field of public health can join forces to combat such epidemics as obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. He discusses the way that architectural design can influence a person’s wellness. This movement is fast catching on with the young architectural students of today, many of whom are requesting courses that can teach them how to design buildings with the public health in mind. Robert also talks about his advocacy that medical schools offer an architectural design curriculum as part of their undergraduate level study. He sees a major part of the future of architecture as lying in the hands of graduates with combined degrees who are ready to tackle these issues of chronic disease.

This is the same sentiment that Robert voiced in his Q&A interview with In his Q&A he details the historical role that design has played in public health from the draining of swamps in Washington D.C. to the design of New York’s Central Park. He continues by explaining that buildings in a city can be designed in a way that promotes exercise and wellness. Robert truly sees the architectural fields ability to collaborate with other professions as being vital to this goal of achieving a design that promotes healthy lifestyles.

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