Carnegie Mellon University

Sara Jensen Carr

CAS Speakers Series Presents

The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

Sara Jensen Carr is an assistant professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape and the program director for the Master of Design in Sustainable Urban Environments program at Northeastern University. She is a licensed architect and holds an MArch from Tulane University, and an MLA and PhD in Environmental Planning from University of California, Berkeley. Her work and research on the connections between urban landscape, human health, and social equity has been funded by the Mellon Foundation, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, and the National Science Foundation. She has been published in varied outlets including Preventive Medicine, LA+ Journal, Places Journal, and the Journal of Architectural Education as well as interviewed by the New York Times, CNN, and Foreign Policy, among others, for her expertise on epidemics and urban design. Her forthcoming book, The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Urban Landscape, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2021.

Embodied Environments

Our changing understanding of the reciprocal relationship between the environment and the body is reflected in the palimpsests of our urban landscape. Concepts of wellness, disease, and treatment have influenced urban design from the Industrial Revolution to today, and the results have ranged from successful to unintended incubations of the next generation of illnesses. As we face a rupture in the parallel histories of public health and the public realm, examining our built environment through this lens is necessary to frame today’s most urgent questions. This talk looks to the past in order to offer meditations on how the urban landscape must shift again to address the intertwined issues of our pandemic present, social justice, and climate change for a healthier future for all.