Urban Design for Mental Health
Pratt Brooklyn
18 October, 2019





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.

Director The Centre for Conscious Design
Director at Hume

Itai is a practicing architect and researcher focusing on designing with the human experience in mind. He is Director of Hume, a science-informed architecture and urban design practice backed by research at its Human Metrics Lab.

In 2015, Itai founded the Conscious Cities movement; a new field of research and practice for building people-centred environments that are aware and responsive using data analysis, AI, tech, and behavioural science in design. Itai is the Director of The Centre for Conscious Design, a think tank focused on using design to address urban challenges facing society today and in the future. The centre publishes open-access research and organises human-centred and science-informed design events worldwide.

A fellow at The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (editing its inaugural journal), and at the Urban Design Forum, Itai also carries out thought leadership roles in bodies such as Harvard and Brookings Institution and is on the Advisory Council of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.

An alumnus of The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, Itai has worked alongside the late visionary architect Jan Kaplicky at Future System on projects such as the Ferrari Museum in Modena. His design work and writing has been featured internationally and he is a regular speaker at events focused on human-centred design.

Principal and Director of Research for HKS, Associate Professor at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Michigan

Dr. Upali Nanda is Principal and Director of Research for HKS, a global architectural firm where she spearheads research projects globally. She also serves as the Executive Director for the non-profit Center for Advanced Design Research and Education, and teaches as the Associate Professor of Practice at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Michigan.

She serves on the board of directors for HKS and the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture. Her doctoral work on “Sensthetics” has been published as a book available on Amazon.com. Her award-winning research has been widely published and cited in peer- reviewed journals and main stream media. In 2015, Dr. Nanda was recognized as one of the top 10 most influential people in Healthcare Design by the Healthcare Design Magazine. Most recently, she was honored by Architectural Record with the 2018 Women in Architecture Innovator Award.

Deputy Division Director of Operations- Behavioral Health at The Council of State Governments Justice Center

Takeesha White has over 10 years of progressive experience, in public health education and mental health promotion and service delivery in national and international settings.

Takeesha has been an active participant in improving partnerships within the five boroughs to ensure health equity and healthier environments while naming racism as a root cause for poor health outcomes. She was also a leader in the design and strategic development of Mental Health By Design and the Founding Director of Friendship Benches NYC a non-traditional approach to closing treatment gaps by employing Peers as community mental health workers to deliver counseling at the neighborhood level. Ms. White led community connectivity and digital strategies for mental health promotion for Thrive NYC and behavioral health strategy development at the Center for Health Equity.

Program Manager at the NYC Department of City Planning

Jorge Hernandez is a Program Manager with the Planning Coordination division in the New York City’s Department of City Planning. He manages and facilitates the annual submission of the Statement of Community District Needs, working closely with all of NYC’s 59 Community Boards, the Office of Management and Budget, and City agencies.

Product Manager and Developer at NYC Planning Labs

Jonathan works at the intersection of digital technology, public policy, and urban governance. He is currently Product Manager and Developer at NYC Planning Labs, a small digital delivery team in the New York City’s Department of City Planning. He is also a visiting adjunct professor at the Graduate Architecture & Urban Design at the Pratt Institute. In his spare time, he thinks a lot about how to reform civic institutions for the 21st century.

Founder and CEO of Radical Health

Ivelyse Andino is an Afro-Latina health equity innovator born and raised in The Bronx and the founder and CEO of Radical Health. Ivelyse enjoyed a fledgling career in health tech, pioneering some of its first digital health solutions, including bringing the first mobile app prescribing platform to market and working with global clients such as National Health Service (NHS London) and Kaiser Permanente. While she routinely trained oncologists on new drugs, she found herself unprepared when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. This forced her to directly and intimately confront the systemic healthcare disparities she knew that existed. In founding Radical Health — the first Latina-owned and operated Benefit Corp in NY — she has sought to combine her expertise in healthcare and her passion as a community organizer.

Through Radical Health, Ivelyse is committed to the task of transforming healthcare by facilitating health literacy and self-advocacy, as well as forging a relationship between meaningful face-to-face conversations with cutting-edge technology. Ivelyse is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and a 2019 Aspen Ideas Health Scholar.

Associate Director of Research at Van Alen Institute

Andrew designs projects and workshops that explore the relationship between health, well-being, and the built environment. His work fosters appreciation of how urban environments impact communities, the value of using scientific approaches to build that knowledge, and the potential for public officials, community advocacy groups, designers, and other stakeholders to imagine and create better, healthier cities. As Associate Director of Research at Van Alen Institute, Andrew has presented to the NYC Department of Design and Construction on emerging ideas and trends in urban transportation; coordinated a workshop examining the mental health impacts of closing one of New York’s busiest subway lines; and brought scientists and designers together to discuss how their disciplines can better collaborate and create more human-centered environments in the future.

Founder and President of Billion Minds Institute

Dr. Belkin is currently Founder and President, Billion Minds Institute. Previously, he was Executive Deputy Commissioner in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where he led the Division of Mental Hygiene and its development of the framework and implementation for the NYC wide approach to innovate for mental health called ThriveNYC.

Before his joining city government, he was the Medical Director for Behavioral Health across the Health and Hospitals Corporation of the City of New York.  He has led policy development in urban health settings, advancing innovative approaches to public mental health. As Director of the NYU Program in Global Mental Health, Dr Belkin partnered with other groups to test and scale community-led models of mental health in less resourced countries that  are now widely used.

Dr Belkin established Billion Minds to build out a new and necessary field of policy and applied community action and networks that pragmatically link safeguarding mental health and a humane social climate, to the climate crisis and securing sustainable societies.