Friday, March 9, 2012

Built Environment and Public Health

As a Registered Professional Planner I have worked with public health, urban design, Engineering, and Planning professionals for over 15 years in numerous municipal and private contexts; often with the expressed focus of improving community well-being.  Therefore, I was pleased to have the opportunity to review The Built Environment and Public Health, written by Russell P. Lopez.   
My hope was to find a useful resource to aid my work.  What I found upon reading The Built Environment and Public Health, was something entirely on a grander scale.  Mr. Lopez has written an exceptional book for professionals and students alike. 
Although The Built Environment and Public Health is based on a model curriculum, the preface describes what in the end is the broader intent that Mr. Lopez easily achieves with this book: “it is meant to be used by public health practitioners, urban planners, and others who may need a quick reference text on issues that often arise regarding health and the environment”.  
Both broad and details planning, community health, and design issues are nested in well structured sections.  The author does an incredibly good job documenting the sources of both historical and contemporary aspects of such a wide ranging subject matter. 
Another helpful characteristic of this book is that Mr. Lopez is able to present information relating to cultural/social conditions created by the built environment and environmental design, that go beyond physical health impacts on individuals.  This surely will be useful for those working outside of design/development specializations, for whom much of the contemporary writing on the built environment is focused.  Social, economic, cultural, design, and policy implications associated with the built environment are all addressed with an equal attention to detail; with the concluding section “Tools and Applications” being a helpful strategy resource for professionals.  
Finally, even on their own, the 70 pages of references included in The Built Environment and Public Health, make it worth purchasing.  My copy has a new permanent perch alongside other favourites.  I suggest any Planner, Health Practitioner, or designer do the same and make room on their bookshelf for Mr. Lopez’s excellent work.  

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