About Neighborhoods Now
In collaboration with the Urban Design Forum, Neighborhoods Now connects neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with leading design firms. In Bed-Stuy, Jackson Heights, Kingsbridge, and Washington Heights, these working groups are collaborating to develop safe and effective reopening strategies.
The outcomes are a set of design recommendations, prototypes, and installations empowering communities to respond to their immediate needs, while contributing to the city-wide strategy on pandemic response. In some neighborhoods, prototypes have already been implemented, and Van Alen and Urban Design Forum are actively fundraising to support additional implementation.
Learn more about Neighborhoods Now.
Goals and Outcomes
The team aimed to address the immediate needs of the neighborhood’s restaurants with proposals for responsive set-ups and shading along the street, ultimately helping over 20 businesses participate in the city’s Open Restaurants program.
The team opened a field office to create an on-the-ground presence and pilot a model for temporary uses of vacant storefront space. The field office served as a hub to distribute information, goods, and services to businesses and individuals during the pandemic.
The team developed original designs to use parking and sidewalk lanes for public seating for three locations at Barco de Papel, Tulcingo, and Centro Mistico. At Libreria Barco de Papel — which serves not only as a bookstore, but as a community hub for cultural and political activity — the team supported additional strategies to shift programming and browsing to outside.
The team hosted multiple days dedicated to sprucing up the streetscape through new plants and fresh coats of colorful paint for benches in the area.
Viva La Comida:
Viva la Comida! is an annual festival highlighting the cultural diversity of Queens, combining food with music, art, dancing, entertainment and more on a street known for its outpouring of vibrancy. Even though the future is uncertain, the team worked to create parking and restaurant seating plans to accommodate the large gathering.
In-kind donations were provided by Baggu, Future Green, Gilbane, Herman Miller, Julien Leyssene & Cristina Webb, MillerBlaker, Noble Construction Group, Sherwin Williams, SIKI IM STUDIO, Spinneybeck, Uniqlo, and We Plant NYC.
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