The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it many changes to the ways New Yorkers work, travel, attend school, and socialize. What changes will become permanent in a post-COVID NYC, and what will that future city look like? What beneficial interventions or chances to make permanent improvements are being overlooked? To help answer these questions, editors and educators Dr. Mohammad Gharipour and Dr. Caitlin DeClercq look to past pandemics and how they have shaped – and been shaped by – the cultural, social, and built environment in cities around the globe. 

Their recently released anthology, Epidemic Urbanism, contains dozens of case studies from six continents over 500 years, examining changes to governance, culture, infrastructure, and urban planning resulting from epidemic disease outbreaks. Focused history and analyses bring readers from 15th-century Lisbon, Portugal to 20th-century Kathmandu, Nepal, with stops in Dakar, Hanoi, Istanbul, and Seattle along the way. Wide-ranging in subjects and in disciplines of its contributors, this fascinating anthology suggests an overarching lesson: successful public health interventions rely on good data and a commitment to equity. 

Dr. Gharipour and Dr. DeClercq joined OHNY Board Member Saundra Thomas for a conversation about how history can help us build and achieve a post-COVID city and prepare for future epidemics.

Purchase Epidemic Urbanism here.

Author Bios

Mohammad Gharipour is Professor and Chair of the Department of Built Environment Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, USA. He obtained his PhD in architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. He is the recipient of awards from the Society of Architectural Historians (2008), National Endowment in Humanities (2015), Fulbright-Hays (2016), Foundation for Landscape Studies (2016), Council of Educators of Landscape Architecture (2016), American Institute of Architects (2018), Fulbright (2019). He has authored and edited thirteen books including Persian Gardens and Pavilions (I.B. Tauris, 2013) and Health and Architecture (Bloomsbury, 2021). Dr. Gharipour is the director and founding editor of the award-winning International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA), the co-founder of the Epidemic Urbanism Initiative, and a director at the Society of Architectural Historians.

Caitlin DeClercq earned a PhD in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, with prior degrees in Education and Anthropology. Her work on the history and practice of healthy campus design has been included in edited volumes and journals such as Experiencing Architecture in the Nineteenth Century: Buildings and Society in the Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2018), Planning for Higher Education, and the Journal of Academic Librarianship. Dr. DeClercq currently works at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning and is an independent architectural researcher based in New York, NY. She is the co-founder of the Epidemic Urbanism Initiative, co-editor of the volume, Epidemic Urbanism: Contagious Diseases in Global Cities (Intellect, 2021), and co-convenor of the SAHGB/IHR/Wellcome Collections-sponsored seminar series, “Spaces of Sickness and Health: Histories of Art, Architecture, and Experience” (2021).

OHNY Stacks

OHNY Stacks is a series of virtual book talks exploring the unknown, the unseen, and the unnoticed. Join us on Thursdays, 5:30—6:30pm ET through February with authors of highly acclaimed books critical to understanding the past, present, and future of New York—as well as national trends or global issues that influence the shape, structure, and experience of cities and urban life today.