Active Design Miami

Putting resident’s well-being and quality of life first, through policy and design

FUNDER: Florida Department of Health
CLIENT: Miami Center for Architecture & Design
PROJECT AREA: Miami-Dade County
STATUS: Complete
DATE: October 2015 - June 2016


Miami-Dade residents are not fully experiencing healthful, enjoyable daily lives. Miami-Dade County ranks 61 out of 67 Florida counties for measurable health outcomes.* Costly and preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and related conditions are among the most commonly measured outcomes, and they continue to be major drivers of death and disability in counties like Miami-Dade across the US.

Reduced physical activity, increased isolation, and lack of access to fresh foods are contributing factors to these unfavorable outcomes. The built environment - a city’s streets, buildings, and public spaces - is a powerful driver of these negative health trends. Long driving commutes, fewer public spaces and activities, dangerous street conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, and reduced opportunities for social interactions are tangible examples of the factors driving these trends.



Active Design Miami is a set of evidence-based policies and design strategies for healthier communities. The project was inspired by New York’s Active Design Guidelines, developed in 2010. Active Design Miami addresses four key urban issues: parks and open spaces, development patterns, transportation and mobility, and building design. The strategies under each section provide numerous opportunities for increasing physical activity, social interaction, and access to healthy food. By selecting and implementing several strategies, if not all, cities can measurably improve their community’s well-being and health outcomes.



Urban Impact Lab was contracted as the Project Manager for Active Design Miami to lead the development of the strategies, build and manage the project team, work with elected officials and administration to secure county and municipal support, and develop, edit and produce the final publication.

By convening a multi-disciplinary advisory group and working with local and national experts, the team followed a collaborative process and ensured all strategies meaningfully address Miami’s needs and priorities. 



  • Development of 69 evidence-based design & policy strategies for healthier communities

  • Drafting, editing, design & publishing of Active Design Miami publication

  • Adoption of Active Design Miami by 10 municipalities as well as Miami-Dade County

  • Management of project strategy, team, and engagement efforts

  • Successful completion of project scope on time and within budget


To ensure the development of a collaborative, inclusive approach and meaningful outcomes, the Urban Impact Lab team started by establishing and working with a 42-member Advisory Council. The Council helped inform the project’s framework, values, and strategies.

Throughout the project period, the team held at least 40 Active Design trainings and presentations with local planning and design professionals, county and city elected officials, municipal/city staff, and related professional groups. Through this effort, the team briefed representatives from 20 municipalities as well as county administrators which together represent 94% of Miami-Dade’s total population.


Urban Impact Lab led all aspects of the development and production of the entire Active Design Miami publication, including 69 evidence-based strategies (link), as well as a municipal planning and assessment tool to assist design and planning professionals in quickly identifying opportunities for implementing Active Design Miami strategies.

Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution supporting Active Design Miami and directing staff to include its strategies in the Miami-Dade County Comprehensive Development Master Plan. Ten municipalities within Miami-Dade County also adopted Active Design Miami. In total, Active Design Miami will directly impact nearly 75% of local residents through significant and lasting effects on how we grow, build, and design our communities.


The link between city design and an individual’s health and well-being can be easily underestimated because the effects are a culmination numerous small actions. However, policies and design have a significant, daily impact on the choices we make, and in turn those choice directly affect our quality of life. A city can be designed to encourage walking and biking, play, social interaction, and active recreation as well as support urban farming and access to fresh foods. When local leaders prioritize health and quality of life, a city’s transformation can be relatively simple, starting with small wins that over time yield significantly positive outcomes for all residents.


Interested in implementing active design strategies in your community?