Published  May 3, 2018
May 3, 2018


By: Lloyd Alter

Fitwel is all about healthy living, and it's going to be big.

Fitwel is a building certification standard that encourages healthy, active living; it was developed by The Center for Active Design (CfAD) at the instigation of New York's former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who noted at the time that "physical activity and healthy eating are the two most important factors in reducing obesity." Now the first residential building has been certified under the standard: The Pearl, a luxury residential project in Silver Spring, Maryland, built by the Tower Companies. From the press release:

“Our goal was to design The Pearl with elements that promote an active lifestyle and enrich people’s lives by giving them a sense of still and calm,” said Jeffrey Abramson, partner at The Tower Companies. “The Pearl is a home, a place where anyone can live a healthy, balanced, and full life with little effort. The Fitwel Certification System has given us the tools to greatly enhance that experience for our residents.”

Usually the first thing you see in an apartment lobby is the bank of elevators; not here.

Elevators are not in sight upon entering The Pearl, where instead, a glass stairwell encourages residents to climb the stairs and develop everyday habits that lead to better health. Friendly reminders are also in place at all elevator call areas promoting the health and environmental benefits of taking the stairs.

The presser doesn't list everything they have done on the multifamily checklist, but it's clear that they hit a lot of them, from the big gym to the outdoor amenity spaces. Here's what Fitwell wants and what the Pearl got:

The Pearl received a 2 Star Fitwel Rating by incorporating nearly 50 unique evidence-based design and policy strategies that support the physical, mental, and social health of its residents. One such strategy is providing ample open and green space for residents to stay active, unwind, and connect with their community. These outdoor spaces include a courtyard with restorative gardens, a playground, fitness equipment, an urban farm, and more health-promoting amenities.

Fitwel's residential standard was originally pitched as being "optimized for use in new and existing buildings and for market rate, affordable, and senior residential properties." The Pearl is in fact a luxury building with a seriously junior one bedroom renting for over $2000 per month. Some of these amenities are high cost and high maintenance. But it is wonderful to actually see the bricks and mortar, to see what Fitwel living looks like inside and out; it's a lot more than just about taking the stairs.

And oh, the building is also certified LEED Gold, but these days everybody is really into health and wellness instead of energy or any of those other boring things that LEED does. I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of these; LEED tries to fix the planet but Fitwel is about fixing people and fits perfectly in an "all about me" world. Having both is nice.


Example searches: LEED, interiors, "Design Collective", etc.