The Centre for Conscious Design

Urban Design for Mental Health | Workshop

October 18, 2019 – 9:00 am
Pratt Institute
Event Recordings (Listed for Members)

Mental health is now being recognised as a powerful determinant of wellbeing across all sectors. In the context of an ever urbanising society, the rise of loneliness, depression, time-poverty, and stress are indicators that our cities must take a pro-active role in supporting our psychological, emotional, and social needs.

Day 4 of the festival will focus on how to create the conditions for mental health to become a priority in how we design our streets and buildings.


Designers, community planners and organizers, advocates and activists, decision- and policy-makers, and behavioral scientists will present forward-thinking approaches to share knowledge and problem-solve in this festival workshop.

Workshop goals

  • Create a dialogue between researchers, practitioners, community planners and decision-makers reaching practical applications for impact-driven design.
  • Establish a Community of Practice focused on each festival thematic which activates and sets up engagement into the future.
  • Create outputs from each session that can act as both a resource and a catalyst for action within city agencies.

We will be joined by representatives of New York’s City Hall and other city agencies interested in the latest innovation in planning and engagement with local communities.

This event is part of an event series

Hosted by

Organised by

Dr. Upali Nanda is EVP and Global Sector Director for Innovation at HKS, an international architectural firm where she oversees a range of innovation practices that work within, through and beyond the built environment for meaningful impact. Prior to her current role she served as the global research director for the firm and as the Executive Director for the non-profit Center for Advanced Design Research and Education. Dr. Nanda teaches as Associate Professor of Practice at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Michigan and serves on the board of the Academy for Neuroscience for Architecture. Her award-winning research around health and wellbeing, neuroscience and architecture, sensthetics, point of decision design, and outcome-driven design has been widely published. She has won various research and innovation awards including the 2018 Women in Architecture Innovator Award.

Mark Bessoudo is a London-based writer and researcher specializing in topics at the intersection of urbanism, sustainability, culture, design and philosophy. His work has appeared in Conscious Cities Journal, The Journal of the Academy of Urbanism, Canadian Architect, New Philosopher, The Globe & Mail, The New York Times, Issues in Science & Technology and more. Mark is a Member Chartered Building Engineer (MCABE C.Build E) and holds degrees in building engineering and environmental engineering.

Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo is Chief Architect of the New York City Department of Design and Construction. The newly created Office of the Chief Architect assures that the ideas of Design and Construction Excellence factor into all DDC projects. It uses the mayoral lenses to bring guiding principles of growth, equity, sustainability, resiliency and healthy living to both public buildings and infrastructure. In addition to design involvement on DDC projects, the Office of the Chief Architect coordinates interaction with the Public Design Commission’s regulatory review and with the Percent for Art program of the Department of Cultural Affairs. DDC manages design and construction for over 26 sponsor agencies. Margaret served as 2011 President of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was 2016 President of AIA New York State.

Chen is a Co Founder & CXO of Venn, a startup that creates a new way of urban neighboring by managing homes, creating shared spaces, supporting hyperlocal business initiatives and services, supporting resident-led events, and facilitating community engagement – all on a neighborhood-wide level. Founded in 2016 by people raised in the Big City and in cooperative communities, venn is a new movement of neighboring that impacts tens of thousands of people in three cities (Brooklyn, Berlin, and Tel Aviv) via 50 employees and a $40 million funding investment led by Pitango Venture Capital, Hamilton Lane, on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and Bridges Israel.

During his 40-year career at Community Access (CA) in New York City, Steve was committed to improving health outcomes and advancing the rights of people with mental illness. CA pioneered an integrated supportive housing model that blends affordable units for families and units for formerly homeless people recovering from mental illness, and now has a pipeline of 2,000 units in 25 developments. Steve was honored by the National Council for Behavioral Health in 2016 for his CIT advocacy. Steve retired as CEO of Community Access in June 2019 and is now supporting a range of mental health housing and advocacy initiatives throughout the U.S. and abroad. An avid proponent of human-centered design, Steve hopes to assist agencies and governments plan and implement social initiatives that are truly informed by user needs.

Anna Maskiell is a registered Architect and co-founder of Public Realm Lab, a Melbourne based design consultancy that translates strategy and culture into vibrant places. Key projects include design strategies for not-for-profit Aboriginal Housing Victoria and the government agency responsible for delivery of a new model of short-term housing for women and children experiencing family violence. Prior to establishing Public Realm Lab Anna worked and studied across Asia including investigating and mapping informal settlements in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. She is the 2019 recipient of the Marten Bequest, which will support 2 years of study and travel investigating designers, organisations and policy makers using evidence based design to support communities.

Elena Madison is an urban planner with rich experience in the planning and design of parks, plazas, campuses, and the public spaces of civic and cultural institutions. A veteran of Placemaking, Elena has a passion for working with people in communities to create the places they love. She is a dedicated practitioner of collaborative work in all aspects of placemaking from visioning, concept development and design, to programming, place management and implementation. Elena has directed many exciting projects in places where Project for Public Spaces has had a big impact such as Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. She heads the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grant program at PPS, now entering its seventh year with close to 20 implemented projects across the United States. In addition, she is spearheading new pilot placemaking grant programs with the MassMutual Foundation in Springfield, MA, and the William Davidson Foundation in Detroit. Elena is also leading PPS’ place management initiative helping communities manage their public spaces to create inclusive, intentional, livable and connected social environments. Social inclusion of vulnerable and underserved groups in public space is a particular focus of her efforts.

Shanti is a strategist who believes in the power of government to help people build better lives. As deputy director of the Public Policy Lab, Shanti partners with government to incorporate communities in policy design, transform service systems to be more equitable and effective, and pilot new social programs. She has led work with the NYC Administration of Children’s Services, the NYC Department of Education, the NYC Department of Homeless Services, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, among many other public-interest organizations. Shanti holds degrees in social science and design from the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the Illinois Institute of Technology, respectively.

Kishor Malavade, M.D. is currently the Vice Chair and Deputy Medical Director of the Department of Population Health at Maimonides Medical Center. In his current role, he helps lead an integrated health network in Brooklyn, NY that is part of a federal waiver program designed to transform the public health care system in the state of New York. He was previously the Vice Chair in Psychiatry at Maimonides. He was Chief Medical Officer for a Health Care Innovation Award from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to Maimonides in 2012 that developed a model to coordinate care for individuals with serious mental illness through community-based care management. He completed his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College, and his residency training in psychiatry and a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine. He was the Director of Bellevue’s Psychiatric Emergency Services before joining Maimonides in 2010.

“The design of our environments has a profound impact on us and has the potential to create conditions for flourishing. As an architect, I find the more I learn from the world of the cognitive sciences, the more my design advocacy and inquiry develops, which in turn creates more confidence in communicating the social value of design, in a language inspired and informed by both citation and intuition.” Jenny is a practitioner, educator and adviser. She runs her architecture and design studio in the United Kingdom and runs the Interior Futures Platform, on the Masters Program at the Royal College or Art in London. She is a client adviser for the Royal Institute of British Architects and is the chair for the Royal Institute of Architects in Scotland Awards 2020.

Josh Langham is the Assistant Director of the Active Design program in the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). His work focuses on increasing opportunities for physical activity and overall health through the design of the built environment. Josh’s multi-agency and cross-disciplinary projects and programs aim to implement Active Design strategies in citywide policies and initiatives. He has a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

Stacey A. Cabezas is the Head of Programs at Radical Health. A proud Latina who was raised in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, Stacey has always had a passion for her community, her culture, and helping others. Prior to joining Radical Health, Stacey enjoyed a career in journalism and press relations with El Diario/La Prensa, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in New York, and CCCADI (Caribbean Culture Center African Diaspora Institute) where she cultivated stories that highlight and serve the communities through culture and information. Stacey had the pleasure of working on various projects, from assisting in the coverage of the 2013 mayoral election to curating three separate exhibits throughout New York City, highlighting the Latino presence and experience through the eyes of historical archives of the newspaper.

Stefano Andreani is a licensed architectural engineer and educator interested in innovative and transformative design research methods for the understanding and design of human-centered built environments. Andreani is a Lecturer in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design teaching courses on responsive environments, user-centered design, and quantitative urban experiences. Pursuing his research at the intersection of innovation-driven architecture and digitally-informed urban design, Andreani is also a Research Associate at the Responsive Environments and Artifacts Lab (REAL) at Harvard GSD.

Chau joined DCP recently as assistant urban designer at the Urban Design division. Chau graduated from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Infrastructure Planning in December 2018. Chau is from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Before coming to NYC DCP, she has worked at Interboro Partners – assisting with a neighborhood framework plan and engagement strategies for the city of Detroit, and interned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at OPerA studio. Chau has many interests in urban planning and design, particularly in the different scales of design, from the infrastructural scale to the furniture scale and beyond. Chau is also interested in the fast-changing urbanism in “developing” countries, particularly her own country and city. Besides work, Chau enjoys biking around, drawing, people watching and focusing on “being”.

Laura partners with social-minded actors across the philanthropy, social enterprise, and nonprofit sectors to help clarify and evaluate social impact. Prior to launching her consulting practice, Laura led the evaluation and learning efforts for Johnson & Johnson’s global health-focused corporate social responsibility portfolio. Laura holds a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Emory University, and began her career focused on public health evaluation and data analysis with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Laura’s work supports efforts to promote wellbeing for people who have been marginalized both in the U.S. and abroad.

Meta Brunzema is an architect/urban designer who develops cutting-edge approaches to spatial, environmental and socio-political challenges at the scale of buildings, cities, and territories. She is a member of the Collective for Community, Culture and Environment LLC, a women-owned consultancy and professional network that focuses on urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, environmental sustainability, economic and community development, public art and placemaking, energy and public health. Ms. Brunzema holds an M. Arch from Columbia University. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and the Departmental Sustainability Coordinator of the Graduate Architecture and Urban Design Program at Pratt.

Theresa Cassano is the Director of the Supportive Housing Loan Program at New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where she coordinates low-interest loan financing to support the development of approximately 900 units of permanent supportive housing each year. Theresa began her career at HPD as an Urban Fellow and project manager, and then worked at HR&A Advisors as a senior analyst. In this role, she worked with private and public sector clients to evaluate feasibility of affordable housing opportunities across the country. After returning to HPD in 2016, she has been actively involved in the launch of the NYC 15/15 service and rental assistance programs as well as continued to support the new construction and preservation of supportive housing in all five boroughs.

Suzanne Nienaber is the Partnerships Director at the Center for Active Design. With expertise in urban planning and facilitation, Suzanne has orchestrated over 200 presentations and participatory workshops to encourage designers, planners, and developers to transform the built environment to support healthy, engaged communities. She also leads Assembly, CfAD’s pioneering initiative exploring how community design impacts measures of civic life—including trust, participation in public life, stewardship, and voting. The Assembly: Civic Design Guidelines (2018) integrates input from 200+ studies, 50+ cities, and dozens of expert advisors to generate a playbook for creating well-designed and well-maintained public spaces as a force for building trust and healing divisions in local communities. Previously, Suzanne worked for New York City’s inter-agency Active Design team, where she developed and implemented training programs to familiarize professionals with NYC’s award-winning Active Design Guidelines (2010).

Suchi Reddy, Founding Principal of Reddymade, established her firm in 2002. “Form follows feeling ” is Reddy’ s mantra, and her primary focus and passion is “neuroaesthetics”, the study of how the built environment affects us. Suchi Reddy is a member of the Van Alen Institute Leadership Council, and Board Member for the Design Trust for Public Space and Storefront for Art and Architecture. In Fall 2019, she will be The Plym Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois School of Architecture.

Nélida Quintero, Ph.D. is an environmental psychologist and licensed architect based in New York. She is an American Psychological Association NGO Representative at the United Nations, member of the NGO Committee on Ageing/NY Executive Committee and the Habitat Civil Society Working Group as well as Fellow of The Center for Urban Design and Mental Health. She has taught at various academic institutions including Hunter College, Parsons School of Design (Certificate Program), and as Assistant-in-Instruction at Princeton University, and is currently an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her research interests are broadly focused on the interactions between people, behavior and the physical environment, in particular in relationship to health, well-being, culture, new media and gender. She was co-chair of Psychology Day at the United Nations in 2019 and of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons in 2016.