Press Release for Building American Public Health













CONTACT:  Lindsey Ruthen, Associate Publicist



Building American Public Health

Urban Planning, Architecture, and the Quest for Better Health in the United States

By Russell Lopez


“A rich and readable history of urban planning, public health, and the links between them.”

—Howard Frumkin, dean, School of Public Health, University of Washington


From the industrial revolution to the rise of the modern obesity epidemic, many generations of American reformers and advocates have sought to protect and promote health by manipulating how we build housing and neighborhoods. Each era’s conceptualization of a healthy environment is documented in its street layouts and architecture.


In BUILDING AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH: Urban Planning, Architecture, and the Quest for Better Health in the United States [Palgrave Macmillan/ Pub Date: May 22, 2012/ ISBN: 978-1-137-00243-3/ $90.00-Hardcover], author Russell Lopez provides a history of how urban planning and architecture have been deployed to improve public health in the United Sates. He highlights the work of tenement reformers, zoning advocates, Modernist architects, New Urbanists, and members of the new built environment and health movement, among others, to improve the health and social conditions of their time by modifying the environment around them.


BUILDING AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH begins in the nineteenth century, when problems in rapidly urbanizing cities threatened to overwhelm cities, and then traces the development and impact of reform movements up through the First World War, including discussions of model tenements, the ‘city beautiful’ movement, tenement laws, and zoning and building codes. Midcentury design movements, such as new efforts to plan suburbs and Modernism, along with outlines of the impacts of public housing, highway building, and urban renewal, are the focus of the middle chapters of the book. The final third examines the revival of cities and the reconnection of public health with urban planning that occurred as the twentieth century ended.


Russell Lopez received his Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Environmental Health from Boston University. His research interests include urban environmental health and the role of the cities, neighborhoods, and the social and built environment in public health outcomes and health disparities. He has taught courses related to the built environment and urban health at Northeastern University and Boston University.

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