Open House New York launched its new online series Conversations on the City, with OHNY executive director Gregory Wessner and Sara Jensen Carr, author of The Topography of Wellness: Health and the American Urban Landscape (University of Virginia Press, 2021), for a live conversation on epidemics.

The Topography of Wellness is a chronological narrative of how six epidemics transformed the American urban landscape, reflecting changing views of the power of design, the pathology of disease, and the epidemiology of the environment. From the infectious diseases of cholera and tuberculosis to the more complicated origins of today’s chronic diseases, this conversation will explore how illness and the responses to it have left their marks on the contemporary city.

Author Bio

Sara Jensen Carr is an assistant professor in architecture, urbanism, and landscape at the School of Architecture at Northeastern University. Her research, teaching, and practice examine both the tensions and potential of modifying the urban landscape for human health and social and environmental equity.


Open House New York’s Conversations on the City offers diverse perspectives on the issues defining New York’s recovery, resilience, and reopening in the aftermath of COVID-19. The series was launched at the onset of the pandemic in April 2020 amid a moment of uncertainty about the future of urban life, ultimately drawing together an audience of 10,000 over the subsequent months. Organized around a broad theme or topic, the series has a point of view: urban life brings an abiding joy. What makes cities continue to thrive, what propels them forward, is a shared need for human connection; this is what cities make possible and it will always prevail over whatever challenges may arise.