Beyond Parks: Public Health, Public Space


  • How the design of the built environment influences social determinants of health

  • How health-driven design interventions can revitalize underutilized space and promote active transportation and social cohesion

  • How to adopt best practices for engaging local stakeholders project planning, implementation, and stewardship

  • How the latest public health research can support and strengthen planning initiatives 

  • How to develop indicators and measure impact of built environment enhancements 


When it comes to health, place matters. From bike lanes to bodegas, mounting evidence suggests that our ZIP code has a greater impact on our health than our genetic code.

For generations, parks have been prized as a cornerstone of public health, offering opportunities for recreation and relaxation. But building new open space requires considerable financial and political capital – and it is not always feasible. Given this reality, how can planners work with communities to promote health broadly through the design of the built environment and, more specifically, activate existing public spaces in ways that encourage physical activity, bolster civic engagement, and improve quality of life?

Unpacking the latest research around the social determinants of health, panelists will highlight a diverse portfolio of New York City-based strategies -- ranging from zoning policy and evidence-based design guidelines, to public art and site-specific design interventions -- to demonstrate the benefits of integrating health outcomes into planning and urban design initiatives. Also presented are opportunities and hurdles with respect to project implementation, including navigating bureaucracy, generating buy-in, and measuring impact and share insights gleaned from on-the-ground experience in New York City.