MIT graduate students from architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning took part in this course, taught by professors from MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism in the School of Architecture + Planning. The students fanned out throughout the country to study eight metropolitan regions—Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, and New York—taking into consideration geographic, climatic, and population diversity. The research included fieldwork, novel forms of geographic and environmental analysis, social factors, and the development of indexed priorities detailing where design may influence urban health the most. Each metropolitan area was comparatively studied at the county scale for health indicators. More detailed studies were conducted in health hot spots, where health indicators already suggest a negative impact that can be tied to urban design.
At the end of the semester, the students presented their results, with some exciting and at times unexpected outcomes. The final results for all of the cities will be available in a published report to be released this fall.