Does This Building Make Me Look Fat?

Every February 2, hundreds of (health) nuts run up New York City's Empire State Building. But the city as a whole, despite its culture of walking and seemingly insane runners, is basically trudging towards obesity. But there's hope! A new set of design guidelines, developed with local and national architects, aims to reverse that trend.

The Active Design Guidelines, which four whippet-thin city commissioners unveiled last week at the city's Center for Architecture, represent urban planning's farthest reach as a lifestyle nudge. And they follow common sense. For instance, make a building's staircase well-lit and central (and easy to keep clean) and more people will use the stairs. Put bike parking and showers in office buildings and more people will bike to work. Create nifty plazas with benches and space to spread out and people will walk to them.

But there are more suggestions that could apply in a residential building.