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November 3, 2017

DDC Showcases Importance of Active Design in Latest Health and Wellness Challenge

Dan Leibel

Long Island City, NY – Over 245 employees of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) skipped the elevator this week as part of their morning routines and instead took the stairs to their offices, as part of the agency’s latest health and wellness challenge to its staff.

The event also highlights the importance of DDC’s Active Design Guidelines, which promote health and physical activity in the design of public infrastructure and buildings. DDC’s design professionals incorporate the Guidelines, which include measures such as centrally locating staircases and making them more inviting to users, into their designs to increase the daily physical activity of the general public.

“This event, in tandem with our other wellness initiatives such as our lunchtime 5K walking club, encourages an active lifestyle in the workplace and supports Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a healthier New York City,” said DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio. “Exercise benefits mental and physical health, and is a great stress reliever. I thank all of the DDC volunteers who helped make this a success.”

DDC staff take the stairs in the 2017 Stair Week challenge in Long Island City

Beginning with 200 participants on the first day of the challenge, at least 245 individual employees participated in the stair challenge by the end of the week, resulting in the steps being climbed 1,128 times.

The Active Design Guidelines have been employed in numerous DDC projects, including the recently completed reconstruction of the Elmhurst Community Library, which prominently features a main central staircase in its lobby. Creating similar opportunities for exercise in daily life routines can increase physical activity and assist in controlling epidemics related to obesity. Additionally, active design can contribute to environmental sustainability, as reliance on elevators decreases. 
new solar charging station
DDC’s main stairway is centrally located and fits the agency’s Active Design Guidelines

“It’s good for me and my colleagues to be aware of our physical wellness in the workplace,” said Nitin Patel, Director of Design in the DDC’s Infrastructure unit. “There’s a lot of sitting down involved with any desk job, so it’s important to get the blood pumping in the morning. I think this challenge will be a good catalyst for people to continue using the stairs to get to their respective work spaces.”

“The challenge is a good motivator because it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something before the workday starts,” said Gabriella Shapiro, Capital Budget Administrator. “It definitely encourages me to continue to take the stairs after the week is over.”

The June 2017 DDC Talks lecture, presented by the Center for Active Design, spoke to the advantages active design provides City dwellers.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit