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COOKFOX, Design Advocates, MNLA, Perkins & Will, Scalar Architecture, and Studio Libeskind collaborated with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC). Together, they designed a Civic Space Toolkit for community-based organizations to operate outdoors along with several short-term responses to the pandemic.
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
In-kind donations were provided by
Goals and Outcomes
Civic Space Toolkit
This universal system is designed for community-based organizations who want to resume their operations in the outdoor space. The system made of inexpensive and reutilized materials (wood crates, palettes, and strings) provides organizations with a flexible furniture and shading solution that can be used for various programs — from book fairs to movie nights and community events. The team is implementing this toolkit in NWBCCC’s backyard to create an outdoor library and hangout space.
Small Business Support
The team organized a seminar for small businesses on how to apply for relief loans, and built out a colorful and eye-catching outdoor dining setup for local restaurant Tropical Rotisserie.
In October 2020, the team organized Kingsbridge Day!, a day of service to spruce up the streets of Kingsbridge and highlight ongoing sanitation issues exacerbated by municipal funding cuts during the pandemic. Local residents and volunteers from across the city cleaned up litter and the nearby Aqueduct Walk Park, while a tree planting demonstration encouraged residents to imagine a neighborhood with more street trees to help combat heat vulnerability.
The team engaged local artists Felix and Dexter Ciprian to help create Tropical Rotisserie’s outdoor dining structure and Bronx-based graffiti artists Tats Cru to create a mural installation celebrating the neighborhood’s identity.