Open House Lecture: Ann Forsyth, “What is a Healthy Place? Cities, Neighborhoods, and Homes”

Multiracial group of young boys playing soccer in Amsterdam

Please join us for the Spring 2020 Open House Lecture delivered by Ann Forsyth, Ruth and Frank Stanton Professor of Urban Planning and Co-Director of the Master in Urban Planning Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.


*This lecture will be ONLINE ONLY. Virtual attendees must have a Zoom account. Members of the Harvard community who have not yet set up their Zoom account can follow the instructions here. Guests without a Zoom account can set one up for free at

The event will also be live streamed to the GSD’s Facebook page. Only viewers who are “attending” the lecture via Zoom will be able to submit questions for the Q+A.

Click this link to access the Zoom lecture:

Open House Lecture

The current pandemic has literally brought home the question of how to make places healthy. With closed borders, shuttered businesses, and social distancing, urban life seems at risk. This talk addresses two key issues: How healthy are higher density cities and regions? What are some models for creating healthier places in the future? For some decades, low density or sprawl has been targeted by many as unhealthy and now the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. Forsyth argue that many kinds of environments can be healthy. Planning and design that attends to places and the people using those places can be an important part of the solution.

About the Speaker

Trained in planning and architecture, Ann Forsyth works mainly on the social aspects of physical planning and urban development. The big issue behind her research and practice is how to make more sustainable and healthy cities. Forsyth’s current research focuses on developing healthier places in a suburbanizing world, with overlapping emphases on aging and planned communities.

She has contributed to three main areas of research and practice. First is documenting and assessing innovative and high-density planning and design in suburban/metropolitan areas. This includes research examining new towns as a whole and specific challenging issues: achieving walkability, planning higher density and affordable housing, supporting social diversity, and balancing social and ecological values. Second is work evaluating and proposing how the physical environment can improve health. She has explored physical activity and food environments, processes of densification, and the needs of different age groups, as well as translating research on health and environments into tools for practice. Forsyth has been active in developing and evaluating new instruments and measures using GIS, fieldwork, surveys, impact assessments, public participation processes, and evidence-based practice guidelines. Finally, she has been active examining how to connect research and practice. This includes understanding the different forms of research and investigation, and how research can inform the process and substance of planning.

Her education includes a B.Sc. in architecture from the University of Sydney, M.A. in urban planning from UCLA, and Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell.

At Harvard, Forsyth is affiliated with the Joint Center for Housing StudiesHarvard Center for Population and Development StudiesHarvard University Center for the EnvironmentWeatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Harvard-China Project and the Harvard Global Health Institute.

She is a co-leader of the Healthy Places Design Lab and the New Towns Initiative.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].