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Celebrating FitCity 2016: Conference Brings Together Architects, Community Groups, and City Agencies to Reimagine a Healthy and Inclusive City

May 25, 2016

NEW YORK, NY, May 25, 2016 — The American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY), in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), will host FitCity 2016 at BAM Fisher at 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn on Wednesday, June 8, 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM. This year’s event will shift the focus from projects to processes – the “how to” of implementation – by honing in on three planning strategies: data-driven decision-making; community engagement and design; and finance innovation in housing. Against the backdrop of rapid neighborhood change, FitCity 2016 will champion human-centered design, a problem-solving approach that invites civic participation in reimagining a healthy and inclusive city.

Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director of AIA New York and the Center for Architecture said, “We are thrilled to continue our collaboration with DOHMH on this important initiative that promotes healthy living through good design. The fruits of this collaboration have shown to be influential in New York City and across the nation, and the work of this conference will help to plan the future of our cities.”

FitCity 2016 will bring together architects, designers, policymakers, public health professionals, urban planners, community development advocates, and academic researchers to discuss how design, policy, and practice decisions can help make our neighborhoods healthier. The program schedule is available here and at the end of this release.

In the morning, a module on “Data-Driven Decision-Making” will highlight how public, private, and nonprofit sectors leverage data to shape policy, guide infrastructure investment, and increase access to resources that improve community health. The afternoon will feature two concurrent modules. “Community Engagement and Design” will explore how citizens can play an active role in planning processes. “The Finance Frontier” will examine how diverse sectors are deploying unique approaches to optimize the integration of health in housing.

“All New Yorkers deserve to live in neighborhoods that support their health and well-being,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “By fostering collaboration between the public sector and health and design professionals, FitCity can play an important role in tackling health inequities that are rooted in the built environment.”

Speakers will include The Nation Features Editor and Host of WNYC’s There Goes the Neighborhood Kai Wright; NYU Furman Center Faculty Director Ingrid Gould Ellen; WXY architecture + urban design Founding Principal Claire Weisz, FAIA; Hector Design Service Founding Principal Damon Rich, The Behavioural Insights Team North America policy expert Elizabeth Linos; and more.

For more information about FitCity 2016, including the program schedule, visit

About the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
With an annual budget of $1.6 billion and more than 6,000 employees throughout the five boroughs, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is one of the largest public health agencies in the world, serving 8 million New Yorkers from diverse ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds. With over 200 years of leadership in the field, the NYC DOHMH is also one of our nation’s oldest public health agencies.

About the AIA New York
AIA New York is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects with more than 5,500 architect, allied professional, student, and public members. AIANY is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach and professional development.

Wednesday, June 8, 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM – Program Schedule

9:00-9:30 am

9:30-9:35 am
Yianice Hernandez, Director, Active Living, Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

9:35-9:45 am
Welcome to Brooklyn: Health in Action
Dr. Torian Easterling, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Medical Director, Center for Health Equity Brooklyn District Public Health Office

9:45-10:30 am
Opening Keynote: Understanding Neighborhood Change: What the Numbers Tell Us
Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, NYU Wagner School of Public Service; Faculty Director, NYU Furman Center

10:30-10:45 am
Coffee Break

10:45 am-12:30 pm
Morning Session

Data-Driven Decision-Making
From streetcars to bikeshare, unprecedented levels of data are informing 21st century infrastructure development. How are architects, planners and economists filtering this information though an equity lens to shape policy, guide investment and measure results?

10:45-11:15 am
City Spotlight: NYC Economic Development Corporation: Brooklyn-Queens Connector
Speaker TBA

11:15 am-12:30 pm
Measuring Access: The Intersection of Data, Equity, and Infrastructure
Dustin Duncan, ScD, Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health, NYU School of Medicine (Moderator)
Julia DeMartini Day, ‎Project Manager, Gehl Studio
Simon Kawitzky, Director of Neighborhood Planning, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Tsu-Yu Tsao, Director of Research and Evaluation, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

12:30-2:00 pm
Lunch Break and Neighborhood Walking Tours

Tour: Brooklyn Strand Action Plan: Urban Design for Neighborhood Connectivity
Explore the path of the proposed Brooklyn Strand, a plan to connect a 40-acre stretch of fragmented parks, plazas, and greenways between Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge Park. [Limited Space]
Jacob Dugopolski, AIA, LEED AP, Associate, WXY architecture + urban design

Tour: Ingersoll Garden of Eden
Along Myrtle Avenue, 60 gardeners ranging in age from 10-75+ are growing more than 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables in this award-winning NYCHA community Garden through an initiative supported in part by the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. [Limited Space]
Meredith Phillips Almeida, Executive Director, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership
Ingersoll Community Gardeners TBA

2:00-4:00 pm
Afternoon Sessions: Two Concurrent Modules

Community Engagement and Design
To paraphrase Jane Jacobs, New York has the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, it is created by everybody. How can human-centered design improve the delivery of public services and help citizens play an active role in building healthy and inclusive public spaces?

2:00-2:30 pm
City Spotlight: NYC Department of Design and Construction: Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 Guiding Principles
Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, FAIA, LEED AP, Chief Architect, NYC Department of Design and Construction

2:30-4:00 pm
Putting People First: Community Engagement, User Experience and the Built Environment
Karen Kubey, Visiting Associate Professor, Pratt Institute (Moderator)
Shaquana Boykin, Program Manager, Healthy Community Initiative, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership
Sarah Lidgus, Founder, Small City New York
Elizabeth Linos, Vice President, Head of Research and Evaluation, The Behavioural Insights Team North America
Damon Rich, Founding Principal, Hector Design Service
Claire Weisz, FAIA, Founding Principal, WXY architecture + urban design

The Finance Frontier
Healthier homes support healthier individuals – and healthier cities. Today, a diverse set of sectors are deploying unique, hybrid approaches to optimize the integration of health in housing. This hands-on session, organized in partnership with the New York Academy of Medicine and the New York State Health Foundation, will challenge participants to explore new models of healthy housing.

2:00-3:00 pm
Funding Innovation in Health and Housing
Kerry Griffin, Deputy Director, Population Health and Health Reform, Center for Health Policy and Programs, The New York Academy of Medicine (Moderator)
Emily Chen, ‎Program Director, Health Futures Fund, LISC
Brian Phillips, AIA, LEED AP, Founder, Interface Design Studio
Lourdes J. Rodriguez, DrPH, Program Officer, New York State Health Foundation
Laurie Schoeman, Program Director, Green Communities, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Additional speakers TBA

3:00-4:00 pm
Interactive Workshop and Participatory Discussion

4:00-4:50 pm
Closing Keynote: Understanding Neighborhood Change: Voices of a Gentrifying New York
Kai Wright, Features Editor, The Nation; Host, There Goes the Neighborhood, WNYC

4:50-5:00 pm
Thank You and Wrap-Up
Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director, Center for Architecture and AIANY

5:00-6:30 pm
Rooftop Networking Mixer


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