Pick Up Soccer

Public space has a direct impact on public health. It choreographs public movement; it instigates or thwarts interpersonal interactions; it can make healthy daily habits easier or harder for its occupants. How can designers fully harness the positive health opportunities for the spaces we create? Can the buildings we make and the spaces we design better encourage healthful habits for their occupants?

FitCity 10 Conference Workshops

On May 11, 2015 a team consisting of NYCHA, Ennead Lab, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, Peterson Rich Office + Sagi Golan, Gina Lovasi of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Elizabeth Garland of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine conducted a pair of workshops at FitCity 10. FitCity is an annual program organized by the AIA New York Chapter in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to “bring together architects, planners, designers, developers, government officials, community advocates, and public health professionals to discuss how design, policy, and practice decisions can create opportunities to increase physical activity, access to healthier food and beverages, and overall well-being.” The aim of the “Fit NYHCA” workshops was to explore opportunities and strategies to activate open space on NYCHA-owned properties.

Over a three month period leading up to FitCity 10, the design team worked with NYCHA to analyze the two case study sites, identify key challenges, and develop preliminary strategies for improving general health and well-being at Betances I and IV through the repurposing and redesign of available and in many cases underused open space. The results of this work was then presented at the FitCity 10 Conference to serve as a springboard for two collaborative work sessions, each of which brought together a diverse array of attendees from the public sector, the private sector, non-profit organizations, and community representatives. During the morning FitCity workshop, participants were challenged to consider the possibility of introducing gardens, food production, and composting into the Betances I and IV sites. In the afternoon session, participants were prompted to consider how active recreation uses could be incorporated on-site. Participants were broken up into groups of ten, and multiple wide-ranging—and at times passionate—small-group design charrettes followed.

Project Report

Following the success of the Fit City Conference, Ennead Lab submitted a Fit City summary report. View full report here.



Mathews Neilsen Landscape Architects

  • Ilana Cohen
  • Signe Nielsen

Peterson Rich Office + Sagi Golan

  • Sagi Golan
  • Miriam Peterson
  • Nathan Rich

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

  • Gina Lovasi

Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  • Elizabeth Garland


New York City Housing Authority

  • Adria Crutchfield
  • Bruce Eisenberg
  • Lindsay Haddix
  • Andrea Mata
  • Ray Ribeiro
  • Mary Rusz
  • George Soukas
  • Marcia Turner
  • Kristine Wolf