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.
Restoration identified the following priorities:
- Social distancing protocols for vital office spaces and retailers
- Cleaning protocols including the decontamination of HVAC systems
- Retail engagement strategies, including internal/external wayfinding signage
- Outdoor spaces and programming to bring the community together
Other community members also identified these priorities:
- Multilingual communications about COVID-19 protocols and health guidelines
- Pop-up outdoor activities including gathering, dining, exercise, play, and memorials, and year-round programming for open spaces
- Strategies to address pre-pandemic challenges such as access to healthy foods and technology, better infrastructure, more shade and greenspace, and improved transportation options
- Participatory projects to build community-building and networking
AE Superlab, Farzana Gandhi Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations, JB&B, and KPF collaborated with Restoration to imagine Fulton Street as a major public space linking slow streets, existing plazas, and repurposed vacant lots and storefronts.
An immediate focus on improving the safety of the area’s office and retail spaces through improved wayfinding, HVAC decontamination and social distance and cleaning protocols has led to continuing to support interior reconfiguration strategies for the Restoration campus. The group is exploring ways to aid broader neighborhood recovery efforts, including through small business training, wayfinding design, and public art.
The Restoration working group sourced materials for movable, adaptable furnishings for pop-ups in public spaces and murals to be created in collaboration with RestorationART to showcase history, memorialize loss, and celebrate strength in the neighborhood.
The use of the information contained in this proposal document, “Community Guidelines and Reopening Strategies,” is at the sole risk of the user, and Van Alen Institute shall not be responsible for, or liable in any way for, the accuracy, completeness or any other matter with respect to the contents herein. The user hereby assumes all risks of the use of the information, and irrevocably and unconditionally waives, releases and discharges Van Alen Institute and its direct and indirect members, directors, officers, employees, agents, affiliates, volunteers and representatives, from any and all liability of any kind or nature whatsoever, in connection with the matters contained herein, and the use of the information contained herein.
These pamphlets aim to inform and engage with the community-at-large in a clear, concise, and user-friendly manner. They outline guidelines and recommendations at multiple scales including tenants, small businesses, and neighborhoods.
On February 24, 2021 the team hosted a free virtual workshop for local small business owners discussing reopening strategies and lessons learned from Neighborhoods Now. The event included information on making interior spaces more COVID-safe, constructing outdoor dining and retail structures, getting permits for the NYC Open Restaurants and Open Storefront programs and potential sources of funding for these efforts.