$2 Million Gift To Architecture School Will Fund Professorship to Advance the Link Between Design and Health

September 18, 2012

The University of Virginia School of Architecture Foundation has received a $2 million gift to establish a cross-disciplinary professorship in design and health.

The Mary Irene DeShong Professorship in Design and Health at the School of Architecture was established by two anonymous donors to support the mission of the school’s Center for Design and Health, launched in May 2011, and to foster a new curriculum centered on design and health within the school. The center is believed to be the only research center in the U.S. that focuses on a variety of health issues across a wide range of scales and regions as well as the design and planning of patient-centered health care facilities, healing gardens and learning centers.

The gift is the largest in school history and “represents our ambitions, together with the University of Virginia, to advance interdisciplinary research and to expand the study, design and shaping of healthy communities and facilities nationally and around the world,” Dean Kim Tanzer said.

Center co-director Reuben M. Rainey, William Stone Weedon Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture, said, “The design and planning of healthy environments is one of the most important tasks of the 21st century on a global scale. The new professorship will strengthen the School of Architecture’s curriculum and research agenda to address this challenge.”

It is expected that the new professor will direct the center; provide intellectual leadership; build partnerships across disciplines with leading practitioners, government policymakers and academics in a myriad of fields; and establish a new curriculum in design and health.

“City planners and urban designers rarely understand, or have systemically studied, the long-term health effects of their work," said center co-director Timothy Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities. “The addition of a professorship in design and health will help us explore all aspects that contribute to making neighborhoods, towns and cities healthy.”

The Board of Visitors approved the professorship Friday, and a search for a distinguished scholar or practicing professional to hold the position will begin this fall. It is expected that person will assume duties in fall 2013.

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Jane Ford

Senior News Officer U.Va. Media Relations