Public invited to learn about “retrofitting suburbia” to create healthier, vibrant places

Public invited to learn about “retrofitting suburbia” to create healthier, vibrant places

Presentation part of walkability speaker series

 Knoxville, Tenn. — The public is invited to attend one of two free presentations by Ellen Dunham-Jones, a leading authority on sustainable suburban redevelopment. Her presentation “Retrofitting Suburbia for 21st Century Challenges” explores how the design of where we live affects public health, economic vitality and sustainability; and will take place on two evenings in April:

  • Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m., doors open at 5:30 p.m., at the Farragut Town Hall Community Room, 11408 Municipal Center Drive, and
  • Wednesday, April 5 at 6 p.m., doors open at 5:30 p.m., at the University of Tennessee Art and Architecture Auditorium, 1715 Volunteer Boulevard. Parking is available after 5 p.m. in staff lot 23.


“Ellen presents insightful, applicable examples on how our suburbs can be transformed into places that help people be more physically active while supporting economic vitality,” said Knox County Health Department (KCHD) Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “Her visit is an excellent opportunity for developers, elected officials and residents to learn about what communities around the country are doing to create healthy, engaging places while activating the most powerful assets in their neighborhoods.”

The event is free, but the public is asked to register by calling 865-215-5170 or by visiting

An award-winning architect, Dunham-Jones is a professor of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology where she coordinates the Master of Science program in Urban Design. She has served in several national leadership roles including Board Chair of the Congress for the New Urbanism, AIA Design and Health Leadership Group, and the Hanley Wood Sustainability Council. She is the co-author of “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.” She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from Princeton University. Her research intersects trends in contemporary theory, health and real estate development, and has been featured in the New York Times as well as on TED, PBS and NPR.

 Dunham-Jones’ presentation is part of a speaker series coordinated by KCHD, Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Knoxville Area Association of Realtors and East Tennessee Quality Growth, and is funded by the Tennessee Department of Health. The series focuses on how the built environment impacts population health and economic vitality.


Built environment factors that contribute to poor health was an area of concern in KCHD’s 2014-2015 Community Health Assessment. It’s well documented that the built environment influences public health, especially in relation to chronic disease – the burden of which can be reduced through an active lifestyle and proper nutrition. However, many urban and suburban environments are not well designed to facilitate healthy behaviors or create the conditions for good health.

 About Knox County Health Department:

The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) is a governmental agency dedicated to making every person a healthy person. As the first health department in Tennessee to achieve national accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board, KCHD’s mission is to encourage, promote and assure the development of an active, healthy community through innovative public health practices. The organization conducts disease surveillance, prevention and control; emergency preparedness; nutrition and physical activity promotion; tobacco use prevention; health equity promotion; immunizations; and much more. For more information, visit