Design Sprints


    Leaders serving marginalized communities and design teams co-create short-term solutions for pressing neighborhood needs.


    Design Sprints launch event, 2024. Photo: Samuel Lahoz

    Design Sprints is Van Alen Institute’s newest community-led design program. Over eight weeks, a five-team cohort comprising community leaders and design professionals collaborate on short-term solutions and tools to meet immediate neighborhood needs. We’re delighted to welcome back several partners from our Neighborhoods Now initiative and introduce new collaborators to this model of community-led design.

    Design Sprints follows the lead of people already working towards equity and justice in their neighborhoods. Community partners have identified an immediate, pressing challenge facing their area, and Van Alen has shaped multidisciplinary design teams uniquely suited to those challenges. We’re facilitating these collaborations through end-to-end project management and providing each team with $5000 in seed funding to implement their plans.

    Why a sprint? Time-bound projects — with an attainable “definition of done” and rapid learning — help build trust between people who are often siloed from each other. Each challenge also feeds into neighborhood-scale efforts led by our community partners, and work completed through Design Sprints supports their long-term goals.

    To follow along, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram for updates from the teams.

    82nd Street Partnership + Librería Barco de Papel

    For Neighborhoods Now, the 82nd Street Partnership, Librería Barco de Papel, and N H D M created a comprehensive proposal for the renovation of Librería Barco de Papel — NYC’s only remaining Spanish-language bookstore and a critical meeting for Jackson Heights’ immigrant community. Now together with Pentagram, they will create a cohesive and culturally appropriate brand identity to help raise funds for the renovation.


    Nahyun Hwang

    Principal, N H D M

    Jean Im

    Architect, N H D M

    David Eugin Moon

    Principal, NHDM

    Camila Pérez

    Project Manager, Pentagram

    Leslie Ramos

    Executive Director, 82nd Street Partnership

    Andrea Trabucco-Campos

    Partner, Pentagram

    Equality for Flatbush

    Equality for Flatbush, BD Felíz, and the Youth Design Center will create visually cohesive promotional materials for their Black Rapid Responders initiative, which trains Black residents to respond to community crises as an alternative to police intervention.


    Brittany Bellinger

    Program Director, Youth Design Center

    BD Feliz

    BD FELIZ, Principal

    Imani Keith Henry

    Executive Director, Equality for Flatbush

    Ivi Lewis

    Success Manager, Youth Design Center

    Khaliyq Taylor

    Graphic Designer, Youth Design Center


    Building on their Neighborhoods Now partnership, FABnyc and Marvel will create an interactive map and digital tool that demystify New York City’s capital construction process for Sara D. Roosevelt Park and illuminate effective methods to exert the community’s influence within the capital process.


    Ishita Gaur

    Associate, Marvel

    Ryan Gilliam

    Executive Director, FABnyc

    Juan Guzman Palacios

    Associate, Marvel

    Guido Hartray, AIA

    Founding Partner,


    Eduardo M. Llinas Messeguer

    Architectural Designer, Marvel

    Ari-Duong Nguyen

    Programs Assistant, FABnyc

    Jaime Palacios

    Junior Landscape Architectural Designer,


    Loisaida Center

    The Loisaida Center and Pentagram will create a communications strategy for the Loisaida Center’s Ecolibrium project — which analyzes hyperlocal environmental conditions in lower Manhattan — to inform community members about efforts to improve public health and invite them to take action.



    Sewon Bae

    Project Manager, Pentagram

    Raul Barreneche

    Senior Brand Strategist, Pentagram

    Patrick Crowley

    Art Director, Pentagram

    Alejandro Epifanio

    Executive Director, Loisaida Center

    Paul Garrin

    Program Director, ECOLIBRIUM

    Luke Hayman

    Partner, Pentagram

    Gracia Lee

    Designer, Pentagram

    Promise Gladys Jimenez

    Administrative Assistant, Loisaida Center

    Antonio Nogueira

    Senior Designer, Pentagram


    Think!Chinatown, Farzana Gandhi Design Studio, fwd | A+U, and Pentagram will create an interactive exhibition design for Think!Chinatown’s upcoming urban planning exhibition on Paifang (archways), their relationship to power and perception in Chinatowns, and placemaking/keeping strategies that truly represent Chinese-American experiences.


    Sewon Bae

    Project Manager, Pentagram

    Meg Chew

    Programs Coordinator, Think!Chinatown

    Kerri Culhane

    Board Member, Think!Chinatown

    Kate Dunham

    Urban Design Consultant,

    Fu Wilmers Design | Architecture + Urbanism

    Jonie Fu


    Fu Wilmers Design | Architecture + Urbanism

    Farzana Gandhi


    Farzana Gandhi Design Studio

    Luke Hayman

    Partner, Pentagram

    Jenny Hung

    Associate Partner, Pentagram

    Yin Kong



    Ben Law

    Graphic Designer, Pentagram

    Chad McCabe

    Art Director

    Patty McKee

    Landscape Architect + Project Manager

    Fu Wilmers Design | Architecture + Urbanism

    Institutional Partners

    Collaborators providing support across multiple team projects in 2024:


    Jan – Feb 2024


    Teams define their projects and metrics for success.

    Feb – Mar 2024


    Teams engage in a collaborative co-design process.

    Mar 2024


    Teams fabricate their designs and create a final suite of products for community partners’ use.