In this fourth installment of our WELL Wednesday series from our Sustainability Studio, we’re talking about Exterior Active Design.

The WELL Building Criteria of Exterior Active Design is intended to promote daily physical activity through pedestrian-friendly site amenities. Sustainability coordinator, Elena Nansen shared this issue because over time, nearly every aspect of our environment has been physically designed to demand less movement and facilitate more sedentary activities. As a result, physical inactivity is on the rise along with a roster of poor health outcomes for those who are sedentary.


Beyond the neighborhood context in which a building is situated, and beyond the interior elements of a building and programs that encourage physical activity, exterior elements of the project site can also be leveraged to encourage physical activity. In a systematic review conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers identified several evidence-based design strategies that can be used to improve the pedestrian experience and encourage activity, including street lighting, sidewalk continuity, crosswalk safety (e.g., center islands or raised crosswalks) and pedestrian-scale aesthetics (e.g., landscaping). Additional pedestrian-friendly design strategies, such as active façades and street furnishings, are outlined in evidence-based guidelines including Active Design Guidelines: Shaping the Sidewalk Experience and are supported by other types of literature. For example, a systematic review found that the presence of aesthetic design and place-making features helped to maintain pedestrian interest, invite increased use by both pedestrians and cyclists, and supported co-benefits including social cohesion, mental health and well-being, economic benefits and public safety.



Requirements for providing on-site Pedestrian Destinations include for all spaces:

Projects must provide at least two of the following within the WELL project boundary:

a) An outdoor plaza or similar open-air space that can be used year-round and contains seating and biophilic elements, provides access to daylight and is supported with wayfinding signage.

b) A fountain or water feature

c) A walking path or trail supported with wayfinding signage.

d) A drinking fountain or water refilling station.

e) Trees, planters and/or other landscaped elements.

f) Artistic installations.

Lionakis has completed several projects which incorporate these WELL Building elements including the Modesto Junior College Science building and the Yolo County Juvenile Hall multi-purpose center.