Neighborhoods Now: Fourth Arts Block

This work is part of Neighborhoods Now, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.


    DLR Group, Buro Happold, Francis Cauffman Architects, Henning Larsen, Marvel, and SHoP worked with 13 of FABnyc’s member organizations to develop reopening strategies tailored to needs of smaller performing arts and culture organizations, including ways to participate in New York City’s Open Culture program.

    About Neighborhoods Now

    A collaboration between the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute, Neighborhoods Now connects New York City neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with design firms in our collective network. Launched in May 2020, Neighborhoods Now initially convened eight working groups led by community organizations in Bed-Stuy, Jackson Heights, Kingsbridge, the Lower East Side, and Washington Heights. What was intended to be a six-week sprint turned into long-term partnerships, and nearly all of these working groups continue to collaborate beyond their initial scope.

    In February 2021, we expanded the initiative with new working groups based in Chinatown, the East Village and Lower East Side, and the South Bronx. With new coalitions of designers, engineers, and landscape architects, each working group aims to convert underutilized outdoor spaces as sites for community programming and cultural revitalization. The Forum and Van Alen have granted each new community partner $10,000 to implement these strategies, and will provide additional fundraising support as funds become available.

    Who We’re Working With

    Coordinating Firms

    Goals and Outcomes

    Safety Protocols
    In 2020, the FAB team worked with several theaters and cultural spaces to create safety protocols, entry and exit flows, and seating charts that allow for socially distanced events. DLR Group worked with La MaMa, Frigid New York, IATI Theater and Teatro Circulo to create outdoor waiting area plans that could extend the lobby and allow for multiple safe entrances. FCA worked with The Clemente to plan for signage installation that would aid in wayfinding and making sure social distancing protocol is followed. They also helped with planning seat arrangements for outdoor festivals. Henning Larsen worked with First Street Garden, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Swiss Institute, and Wild Project to plan for outdoor theaters, creating cost-effective mural walls and seating arrangements for indoor events.

    Reopening Plans
    In 2021, with reopening on the immediate horizon, four more FABnyc members joined the effort with a range of needs. Marvel worked with the Gene Frankel Theater for their official reopening in April 2021, providing a socially-distant seating chart and plans to guide them going forward. They also collaborated with the Loisaida, Inc. to activate their underutilized outdoor spaces by designing areas for active and passive recreation, and enlivening them through murals.

    Vision Plan
    The FAB Vision Plan team, consisting of SHoP Architects, DLR Group, Marvel, and Buro Happold, is working closely with Ryan Gilliam, FABnyc Executive Director, to develop a vision plan to be launched at the organization’s anniversary event in September 2021. The Vision Plan will integrate a range of content, including a series of organizational goals, documentation of the broad range of efforts underway by FAB, and prospective activation strategies for a set of priority open spaces throughout the Lower East Side and East Village. The team has conducted a series of visioning sessions, site visits throughout the neighborhood, and charrette sessions to establish existing conditions and design goals.

    Project Resources

    1 resource(s) for this project.