Course on Health and Urbanism

Decade of Design: MIT Holds Course on Health and Urbanism
By Brooks Rainwater, Director, Public Policy

The AIA is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) on Decade of Design: Health + Urbanism as a part of the AIA’s Decade of Design Commitment to Action with the Clinton Global Initiative. In order to further this collaboration, and choose the cities that will be laboratories for further research, the CAU is currently holding a course titled, “Advanced Research Workshop in Landscape + Urbanism,” during this spring semester.

"The CAU's initial focus for the Health and Urbanism Initiative will be to study the intersections of design, environment, urban planning, and health to develop contemporary insights about future urban form and adaptation in American cities. Several cities will be chosen as laboratories for research, analysis, intervention, and ultimately the development of new metrics for urban design proposals," commented Alan Berger, Head of City Design and Development Group in the School of Architecture + Planning, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, and Research Director, CAU-MIT. "We are interested in evaluating health factors that are traceable to different urban environments and explaining health myths that lead to professional biases about current and future urban forms."

The semester has been structured so that students will study eight metropolitan regions that have been chosen as laboratories for further analysis. The research will include field work, novel forms of geographic and environmental analysis, social factors, and ultimately the development of indexed priorities detailing the largest impacts where design may influence future urban health improvements. The research will serve as the basis for the Decade of Design: Health + Urbanism initiative. Students will be traveling to meet directly with local public sector officials in the identified communities and will also be analyzing a wide range of data as a part of their projects. After the semester concludes, a report will be produced that will help create a strong base for the future joint goals of the AIA and MIT on Decade of Design.

To learn more about the Decade of Design and the Clinton Global Initiative, please visit our newly launched site dedicated to the effort.

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