The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color, and threatens to expand the racial wealth gap in neighborhoods that already lack access to resources as a result of long-term structural inequities. In response, the Urban Design Forum and the Van Alen Institute launched Neighborhoods Now, an initiative connecting neighborhoods hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with over twenty leading design firms and community health experts to develop safe and effective reopening strategies.
The initial outcomes are a comprehensive set of design recommendations and prototypes for open-air restaurant extensions, flexible retail displays for storefronts and pop-ups, modular street furniture and shading elements to activate underutilized open spaces, and more. In some neighborhoods, the working groups have implemented prototypes of their designs, such as outdoor barriers enabling more restaurants to participate in the city’s Open Restaurants program. Van Alen and Urban Design Forum are actively fundraising to support additional implementation.
In this two-part capstone event, the Neighborhoods Now working groups will come together to present their accomplishments, discuss their goals for the future, and share reopening strategies that can be deployed across New York City and beyond. The Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute will also debut a publication with key findings from the initiative, including concrete and actionable recommendations for city governments, community organizations, and design firms keen to take on similar projects.
Speakers and more details to be announced.