Andrew Brown, MPA, BA

Associate Director of Research
Van Alen Institute, New York, NY


Andrew designs projects and workshops that explore the relationship between health, well-being, and the built environment. His work fosters appreciation of how urban environments impact communities, the value of using scientific approaches to build that knowledge, and the potential for public officials, community advocacy groups, designers, and other stakeholders to imagine and create better, healthier cities. As Associate Director of Research at Van Alen Institute, Andrew has presented to the NYC Department of Design and Construction on emerging ideas and trends in urban transportation; coordinated a workshop examining the mental health impacts of closing one of New York’s busiest subway lines; and brought scientists and designers together to discuss how their disciplines can better collaborate and create more human-centered environments in the future. His interview with Layla McCay, director of the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health, is the first in a series of reports from the Van Alen Institute for their Healthy Brains Healthy Citiesinitiative. Andrew received his Master of Public Administration from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and his Bachelors in History from Williams College.

ANFA Themes

In addition to participating in ANFA events and hosting meetings with architects and scientists committed to understanding human responses to the built environment, I have used Van Alen’s public programming to examine pressing urban issues and their health impacts through the tools and insights of the sciences. Through a public discussion about how scientific, human-centered design approaches can help guide the future of mobility in cities, and a walking tour where participants could visualize the impact of environmental stressors on the brain, we invited our audience of designers and urbanists to expand their view of how urban environments can influence individual well-being, and the role of public design in improving outcomes. What I find most exciting about joining ANFA’s Advisory Council is the opportunity to build on this work going forward and working with like-minded people to reach wider audiences of designers, city leaders, communities, and others essential to building better, healthier cities.

Select Publications

Brown, Andrew, Editor. (2017). Van Alen Report 19: America’s Infrastructure. New York City, NY.Van Alen Institute.

Brown, Andrew. (2017). Lessons from Flint’s Water Crisis: An Interview with Steve Friess. Van Alen Report 19: America’s Infrastructure, 33.

Brown, Andrew. (2018) “Revisiting Behaviorism: New Approaches to Understanding City Life,” a presentation; and Panelist, “Impact Design.” 2018 Academy of Neuroscience Conference, Salk Institute, September 20 – 22, 2018.

Brown, Andrew. (2019). Parks, Cities, and Mental Health: A Conversation with Layla McCay. Van Alen Report 20: Healthy Brains Healthy Cities.