CSU: Mobility, Health + Wellness, and the Public Realm: An Evening of Ideas, Challenges and Solutions

CSU: Mobility, Health + Wellness, and the Public Realm: An Evening of Ideas, Challenges and Solutions

Every October the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and partners organize Urban October, a month of activities, events and discussions on urban sustainability. In New York, the Center for Architecture and citywide participants present Archtober, NYC’s annual month-long festival of architecture activities, programs, and exhibitions.

As part of those celebrations, CSU and the Civil Society Working Group held an invited discussion on October 23, at the New York headquarters of international architecture firm Perkins Eastman, entitled “Mobility, Health + Wellness, and the Public Realm: An Evening of Ideas, Challenges and Solutions.”

Over 45 individuals assembled to listen to three subject matter experts offer their thoughts on the evening’s core themes. Theodore Liebman from CSU welcomed those assembled to Perkins Eastman, and Moderator Lance Jay Brown invited each speaker to open their respective presentations with a statement about how we can further implement the SDGs, especially SDG 11.

The first speaker, Samuel Schwartz, President & CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering, spoke to issues of health and place, and the emerging role of autonomous vehicles (AVs) in our ever-urbanizing environment. While one might assume a transportation expert would focus on improving technology, Mr. Schwartz prioritizes getting people out of vehicles and becoming more active. The second speaker, Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, Clinical Professor of Public Health at NYU, discussed the “Health in All Policies” approach put forth by Finland and expanded on the approach’s strategy for addressing the complex factors that influence health and equity. The third and final speaker was Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President at Project for Public Spaces (PPS), who discussed the history of his 40-year old organization, and addressed the importance of process in placemaking and how PPS now focused more on sustainability and encouraging broader and deeper conversations. 

The very compelling opening comments were followed by an active moderated discussion that included comments and input from Aliye Celik, CSU President, Anna Rubbo, Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Katherine Kline, Co-Chair of the General Assembly of Partners, and Eric Fang, Principal of Perkins Eastman, among others. All agreed that it would be of value to reconvene during the next Urban October 2019 to review progress on SDG11 and the New Urban Agenda. 

About the Author: Lance Jay Brown is an architect and urban designer, an ACSA Distinguished Professor of Architecture at The City College of New York, an author, a curator and a Founding Board Member of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization.