A community-led redesign of a public alley in Albany, NY.
How might a neglected public alley be transformed into a space for rest, play, and collective healing?
How might a community-led design process create opportunities for a long-term vision?
Lucid Project: Albany aims to inspire transformational change in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood through the community-led redesign of a public alley. The project brings together West Hill residents, city agencies, and design professionals to co-create design solutions that address immediate local needs while supporting long-term visioning and planning with residents.
Ultimately, we have three main objectives with our partners:
- Facilitate West Hill’s access to resources that can transform their built environment and support socioeconomic development
- Bring community members to work together and with other professionals to co-create design solutions that address their specific needs and aspirations
- Support capacity-building efforts within the community
We began our work in West Hill by listening to community stories and identifying ways to lift up and build upon existing neighborhood initiatives. Though residents face a number of socioeconomic challenges tied to historical and ongoing legacies of systemic racism, West Hill is teeming with ideas and strong community-based initiatives.
For example, the Eden’s Rose Foundation, a local nonprofit, has acquired more than 20 empty lots covering approximately five acres of land. To date, they have built Albany Victory Gardens (AVG), a large community garden that occupies more than two acres within one block. With a focus on economic and food justice, AVG trains local residents in urban farming skills, and cultivates fresh and healthy produce that can be grown and sold locally.
Nearby, 518 SNUG (Should Never Use Guns) works to de-escalate violence in the community and mentors at-risk youth through extensive outreach programs. Their outreach workers are on-the-ground day-in, day-out, talking to young people in their community to build relationships and encourage healthy life decisions. They also hold vigils in honor of community members who have lost their lives to gun violence, and own a plot of land at AVG to cultivate crops.
Currently, we’re focused on transforming a city-owned alley space in the middle of the Albany Victory Gardens. This community-led effort will create a safe space for community members and aims to inspire a larger conversation about self-determination. As part of this process, we’ve been organizing and participating in co-design sessions in Albany with our community partners and design team, listening to local dreams and aspirations for what this space could become.
On September 24-25, we held a community engagement session and co-design workshop with design team The Urban Conga and our local partners.
We set up a table at the West Hill Farmers Market on October 17 and 24 to put forward some initial concepts and gather more ideas from the West Hill community. On October 27, we joined SNUG’s Kids Halloween Party at the Arbor Hill Community Center to share some design inspiration and gather more feedback.
We hosted a design review and selection with our community partners.
Jan – May 2022
We’re holding inspiration workshops with our local partners and starting site prep and fabrication.
Jun 2022 – Jun 2023
Site Cleanup and Installation
We’ll host a volunteer site clean up and install the selected design!