CDC’s Dr. Howard Frumkin Named Honorary Chair of CNU's 18th Congress

"New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places" May 19-22 will explore links between development patterns and health

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Dr. Howard Frumkin, Special Assistant to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Climate and Health, will serve as Honorary Chair of the 18th Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU 18) in Atlanta, May 19-22, 2010. “New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places” is the theme of the 2010 Congress, which is being organized with assistance from CDC.

An internist, environmental and occupational medicine specialist, and epidemiologist, Dr. Frumkin has authored and co-authored more than 160 scientific journal articles and chapters. His books include Urban Sprawl and Public Health, named a Top Ten Book of 2005 by Planetizen, the Planning and Development Network. In his previous role as Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, Dr. Frumkin established CDC’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, which looks at how communities can be designed to make it easier for people to live healthy lives.

“Serving CNU as Honorary Chair of its 18th Congress is a signal honor,” says Frumkin. “On behalf of my health professional colleagues here at CDC, and in agencies and universities across the nation, I am delighted. Protecting public health is a noble calling, and so is creating great places; the growing partnership between health professionals and those in design, planning, and architecture reflects our many shared goals and the many synergies between our two worlds.

“Here in Atlanta — the public health capital of the world — CNU members will meet a vibrant mix of dedicated, visionary professionals, people who "get" the importance of healthy places and are working hard to make them a reality," says Frumkin. "I look forward to working with great leaders such as John Norquist and Ellen Dunham-Jones to help make the 18th Congress a roaring success.”

CNU President and CEO John Norquist applauded Frumkin and the CDC for its valuable work on one of the leading events devoted to making communities more livable and sustainable. “The cooperation of Dr. Frumkin and his CDC colleagues in organizing this major annual event reaffirms the central ideas of New Urbanism — that we can only succeed in making our communities more livable, valuable and healthy by involving professionals, advocates and government officials from diverse fields,” says Norquist. “CNU is already one of the premier forums for cooperation among planners, architects, transportation engineers, developers, and government officials. Having Dr. Frumkin and fellow health policy experts, reformers, researchers and federal government partners with us in Atlanta May 2010 will make this an historic alignment of forces.”

“Dr. Frumkin’s work and that of his CDC colleagues have helped recognize the links between automobile-dependent development patterns and obesity, chronic diseases, injuries, and air and water quality degradation,” says Ellen Dunham-Jones, Executive Chair of the event. “He has led the way in underscoring our need to consider health impact in all community design and land use decisions. I’m thrilled that he will join us at CNU 18.” Like Frumkin, Dunham-Jones is a respected expert, author, and public speaker. Her 2008 book with June Williamson, Retrofitting Suburbia, which documents fast-growing interest in turning under-performing shopping malls, business parks and other areas of sprawl into walkable, mixed-use urban neighborhoods, has generated major media coverage including Time, The New York Times, NPR, and the Harvard Business Review. Dunham-Jones is a Professor of Architecture at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

CNU’s 18th Congress will bring together a breakthrough alliance of designers, developers and public officials committed to fostering more sustainable and livable communities; and health professionals and researchers dedicated to understanding how community design can affect physical and mental health. The event is the largest annual gathering of CNU, a leader in the movement to conserve land and revitalize existing places by re-orienting growth and development around compact, diverse, walkable, mixed-use, transit-served neighborhoods.

“Leaders in the creation of alternatives to urban sprawl have produced projects showing that new urbanist development is more energy efficient and offers major economic and environmental advantages, just as leaders in public health are promoting these same patterns because of their potential health benefits for residents,” says Dunham-Jones. "And because the protection of health, safety and welfare is the legal basis for all of our zoning and building codes, CNU 18 will be a much-needed forum for planners, developers, municipal officials and health officials to all learn from each other."

Decisions about our built environment can have significant health impacts, -- such as whether homes are separated from shops, schools, parks, and workplaces or integrated with them; how buildings are designed; how walkable places are; how much public and green space is present; and whether and where mass transit systems are built -- can have significant health impacts. “That calls on us to design the healthiest and most wholesome communities we can,” observes Dr. Frumkin. “I believe that well-designed communities can be interventions for public health. How we build and maintain our communities’ transportation systems, infrastructure, and public spaces can either exacerbate or reduce obesity, chronic diseases, injury rates, poor mental health, and the adverse effects of climate change.”

“The confluence today of the economic crisis, health-care crisis, and environmental crisis mean we can’t afford to return to gas-guzzling development patterns,” adds Dunham-Jones, “We have a rare opportunity to engage high-level decision-makers in changing our growth patterns to be more sustainable – and more attuned to the needs of our aging population. CNU 18 will provide a wealth of opportunities for attendees to learn, participate, and debate about the challenges and opportunities such changes will necessitate at the federal, regional, and neighborhood level. “

Health professionals, planners, developers, and policymakers at every level will gain valuable insight at CNU 18 through inspiring speakers, relevant research, and exemplary projects and policies. Health considerations will be integrated into the various program tracks, including code reform, implementation, transportation, retrofitting suburbs, green design, public space and policy, and quality of life issues. Pre-Congress activities will begin on May 18 and 19 with participatory charrettes, New Urbanism 101 and partner events. Visit the CNU 18: New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places website for more information or, contact:

Steve Filmanowicz, Congress for the New Urbanism
312-551-7300 ext.12,


Charles Green, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention