Neighborhoods Now: University Neighborhood Housing Program

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


    Dattner Architects and MBB collaborated with University Neighborhood Housing Program to create plans to update and reopen their main office in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

    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

    Safer Work Environment
    Dattner Architects and MBB worked closely with UNHP to reconfigure their main office and accommodate a six-foot distance between employees. The team also provided guidance on how to reduce the amount of workstations in each room, implement a COVID-19 check-in station to control the flow of people in the space, and install plexiglass partitions and air purifiers.

    Outdoor Gathering Space
    For the Rose Hill Community Center, the team proposed a design for a cost-friendly outdoor module planter system suitable for social distancing that also serves as shaded cover.

    Presentation Proposal

    The use of the information contained in this proposal document, “Neighborhoods Now: University Neighborhood Housing Program,” 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.