Hearts, the third biennial Collaborative Community Design Initiative, explored the relationship between the built environment and health—how where we live matters.


Collaborative Community Design Initiative No. 3


The built environment impacts opportunities for walkability, economic opportunity, recreation, play, safety, social cohesion and health—in other words the built environment is a determinant of the health of a neighborhood. As a result the neighborhoods where we live impact our chances to live healthy lives. In cities across the U.S., including Houston, the distribution of resources and the quality of our built environments, public spaces and neighborhoods are not equal. The socio-economic context of neighborhoods—income, ethnicity, housing, education, and employment—is more often than not directly correlated to the health of the people that call them home. Some neighborhoods have plentiful fresh food options while others are food deserts, some neighborhoods have well-maintained parks while others do not, and some neighborhoods thrive while others decline. 


Hearts is a toolkit for change developed in collaboration with four partner communities―Denver Harbor, Fifth Ward, Magnolia Park, and Sunnyside—and identified the determinants of health that can be impacted by community design. Much work has been done to this end over the last decade, as more and more resources are expended on addressing individual health problems instead of understanding how the larger environment affects health issues and proactively working to ensure that all of our communities and the people who call them home have an opportunity to be healthy.        



Locations: Denver Harbor, Fifth Ward, Magnolia Park, Sunnyside

Design Team: Susan Rogers, Director, Designers: Rose Lee, Mirna Santillan, Ricardo Sepulveda

Student Team: Jing Cao, Chris Castaneda, Felipe Cosio, Eunice Liu, Caudy Olmos, Mirna Ovalle, Natalia Sanchez, Tyler Vice, Ben Yu, Benny Zhuang, Juan Pablo Fuentes, John Gardosik, Tiger Lyon, Ashley Hollon

Nanako Hori, Noe Martinez, Hung Pham, Claudia Ponce, Kathleen Roosen, Natalia Sanchez, Preetal Shah, Alfredo Tiznado, David Yao


Project Sponsors: National Endowment for the Arts, Houston Health Department Community Transformation Initiative

Completed 2013