Past Events

Congratulations to our 2016 SustainaBuild Challenge Winning Teams (It was a tie!): Public/Park/Station and The High Bridge

Photo (from left to right): Public/Park/Station team members Lindsey Wikstrom (GSAPP) and Diego Soto (GSAPP), Margaret Castillo, Chief Architect, New York City Department of Design and Construction, and The High Bridge team members Ashley Gripper (Mailman), Kelly Cheung (Mailman), and Adena Hernandez (Mailman).

For more information about the Finalist Team Presentations and SustainaBuild wrap-up event on May 12, 2016, please see the evening's program and read our event write-up!


SustainaBuild Design Challenge 

This spring, New York City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is partnering with the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning (GSAPP), and the Columbia Population Research Center to present the first annual SUSTAINABUILD Design Challenge. This challenge coincides with the launch of the DDC’s new ‘Design and Construction Excellence 2.0: Guiding Principles’.

Interdisciplinary teams will be asked to combine their specialized knowledge to design a physical feature or a programmatic idea that could improve upon the public health of our built environment. Finalists will have the chance to present to Senior Leadership of DDC and their ideas will help to shape the future of DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 program. 

Learn more about the SustainaBuild Challenge by visiting the SustainaBuild Design Challenge Facebook group.


SustainaBuild final presentations and finalist selection were on April 26, 2016 at the Mailman School. Each team presented their projects, which included site visits, explanation of the significance of their chosen sites, a description of their design ideas, and the intended/expected health outcome! After juror scoring, team scores were so close that each team moved onto the final round! Teams will present again and the winner will be announced at our May 12 event!


On Tuesday April 5, 2016, teams of students, and faculty/expert jurors met for SustainaBuild's Idea Exchange and Initial Pitch Session at the Columbia Population Research Center. From 4-5:30pm, students from GSAPP, the Mailman School, and Columbia College planned their design ideas. Starting at 5:30, teams presented their pitches to the jurors and received initial feedback to guide them as they move toward their final presentations at the end of April. We were very excited to see the breadth and innovation of the designs from the start!


The SustainaBuild launch event was on Tuesday March 29, 2016 in 114 Avery Hall (Main Campus) and featured great presentations from experts at the NYC DDC and faculty at GSAPP, the Mailman School, and the CPRC. Weren't able to make the event, but still want to see the presentations? Get inspired by checking them out below!

Margaret Castillo, FAIA, Chief Architect, New York City Department of Design and Construction

Gina S. Lovasi, PhD, Mailman School of Public Health 

Kathryn Neckerman, Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC)


Jane Jacobs' 100th Birthday Party!

May 4, 2016

On May 4, 2016, the Urban+Health Initiative joined Dr. Mindy Fullilove's Urban Space and Health Class for a celebration of Jane Jacobs' 100th Birthday. Jane Jacobs was a journalist, author, activist, and the driving force behind community-focused urban planning. To add to the celebration of Jane Jacobs' life, the May 4 party also featured an exhibition of students' final projects and community work throughout the semester. 


Housing as a Prescription for Health? 

Examining the Role of Housing as a Health Intervention in New York City

Co-Sponsored by Greater Community Reach

On April 15, 2016 we were joined by experts from Mailman and the community for a lunchtime event on the role of housing in promoting health, and the relevance of this issue in New York City. The discussion included the issue of access to affordable housing in the city, as well as the role supportive housing plays for those with chronic physical and mental health conditions.


Elizabeth Zeldin, MA, Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners
Beverley Mosquera, MD, Vice President, Comunilife
Angela Aidala, PhD, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health

Urban walk with Dr. Mindy Thompson fullilove

In October 2015, a group of students and faculty at the Mailman School joined for a walk through Washington Heights and Highbridge Park. The walk was planned by students in Dr. Mindy Fullilove's 'Emerging Issues in Urban Health' course to help students see and understand urban fracture, a concept explored in Dr. Fullilove's recently published book Urban Alchemy. The tour utilized a "Five Senses Scavenger Hunt" model, which supported a deeper evaluation of the topic through pre-planning the resources, activity, and desired outcomes. The class wrote a full report after the walk, which can be found here

Ready for Action: Capacities and Collaborative Activities for Translating Public Health Research in Urban Health Action

Thursday, February 25, 2016
In collaboration with the Columbia Mailman School's Career Services, we held an evening event featuring Mailman School alumni who work to support cities in becoming healthier. The evening featured a panel discussion during which our alumni shared insight on their careers and what skills they view as most important in the urban health field. The discussion was followed by a mixer, which allowed for more personalized conversation and networking with our guests.

Gentrification and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges in Change

gentrification healthAs part of the Columbia University Epidemiology Scientific Symposium (CUESS), the Urban+Health Initiative co-sponsored a full day of discussions on the origins and implications of the gentrification of city neighborhoods. The April 2015 event was attended by experts in research and action who provided diverse perspectives on the gentrification issue, utilizing methods ranging from data mapping and statistical regressions to historic records and potent stories from on-the-ground ethnographic research. Community organizers and researchers in attendance came from Columbia University and New York City, but also spanned the country and globe, including Texas, Baltimore, and California’s Bay Area.

You can find a summary of the event, written by a NYC journalist, here

Urban Health Conversation Series

urban health seriesThe majority of the world’s population now lives in cities, for the first time in history. By 2050, 6.4 billion people are projected to be living in cities. In the United States and around the world many of our most pressing public health challenges are entwined with this population shift.

Urban/Health at the Mailman School hosted a series of urban health conversations to explore key factors — environmental, social, psychological, and others — that affect the health of urban populations. The Urban/Health project at the Mailman School aims to catalyze scholarship around urban health, engage trainees interested in the area, and galvanize innovative cross-sectoral partnerships that aim to improve the health of urban populations around the world.

Vision Zero Symposium at Columbia

vision zeroA research symposium in support of New York City’s Vision Zero was held at the Columbia University, at which public health approaches to traffic safety were discussed with former Acting U.S. Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, MD, MPH.


Conversations around public health, architecture, and cities

health architectureConversations around Public Health, Architecture, and Cities, was co-sponsored by the Mailman School of Public Health and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), at Columbia University. The event was informed by an appreciation of the ever-growing role of the urban environment in shaping the health of populations, both in the US and globally. Urban environments, including physical, social, and service spaces shape the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. Emerging evidence suggests that the urban environment shapes how we feel, think, and behave. This understanding animates scholarship that must, definitionally, exist at the interstices of public health and urban planning/architecture. It is the intent of this meeting to explore these interstices.

The symposium featured talks and panel discussions addressing our understanding of cities and their role in shaping public health, how we can learn from case studies, and how we can set an agenda for building healthy cities in the future.

Read more: Breaking ground on urban health. Paul T. The 2×2 Project 2014