SPOTLIGHT / FAMOUS PROPERTIES
To help combat these health disparities and encourage a
healthy lifestyle, Arbor House incorporates elements of the
Active Design Guidelines. These guidelines provide “a man-
ual of strategies for creating healthier buildings, streets and
urban spaces,” according to the Center for Active Design.
“Active design is basically developing a building environ-
ment that can positively affect people’s health,” Bluestone
explained. “It is about designing buildings to provide oppor-
tunities for physical activity.”
Arbor House’s indoor and outdoor fitness areas—which
include a full indoor gym, climbing wall, outdoor play ar-
eas and outdoor circuit—are all free, accessible and safe for
residents. The building also encourages residents to use the
stairs by designing well-lit, inviting stairwells that feature
glass doorways, original artwork and even music.
To address air quality, the smoke-free building utilizes low
volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives, finishes
and sealants, as well as low VOC vinyl wall coverings and
no particleboard or engineered wood products that contain
added formaldehyde. A living green wall in the lobby helps
circulate fresh air.
These active design elements have been successful. The
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York held
focus groups of residents at Arbor House to measure the ef-
fects. The research revealed that participants felt the “ac-
tive design elements positively influenced health behaviors
through providing motivation, accessibility and safety,” ac-
cording to the study abstract. The Arbor House participants
noted that the gym, inviting stairways, stairway prompts and
reduced elevator speeds also encouraged physical activity.
The same researchers also focused on residents’ asthma
symptoms after moving into Arbor House. Residents report-
ed fewer days of asthma symptoms, fewer missed days of
work, school or daycare, and fewer emergency room visits.
One of the most notable features of Arbor House is its
10,000-square-foot rooftop hydroponic farm.
“The Bronx is considered a food desert; there are not a lot
of places where residents can purchase fresh produce,” said
The farm functions as a community supported agriculture arrangement for residents to purchase produce from the
farm. The building’s roof had to be clear of any obstructions,
which was a challenge because most multi-family buildings
have stacks, pipes and fans on the roof. “We had to get those
off the roof to make it usable space,” said Bluestone.
To do this, developers relocated plumbing lines so they