Neighborhoods Now: Community League of the Heights

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

Contents

    Arup, Design Advocates, Gensler, Stantec, and Woods Bagot collaborated with CLOTH. Together, they proposed all-weather outdoor dining design, flexible outdoor retail displays, and a “kit-of-parts” for outdoor education, including for Word Up Community Bookshop’s programming. The working group has installed one of their outdoor dining prototypes, and is connecting with additional businesses in the neighborhood who could use pop-up spaces through flyering.

    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 Firm


    Supporting Firms


    Goals and Outcomes

    Return to School Logistics
    Arup worked to evaluate potential options for managing socially- distanced student entry into the school. These studies addressed high level requirements for social distancing and use of external spaces to manage and process queues for students.

    Open Restaurant Seating
    Woods Bagot worked with Salento Colombian Coffee & Kitchen to implement a pilot version of the year-round seating concept design.

    Open Streets
    Stantec and CLOTH applied for five playstreets through the City’s Open Streets program. In addition, they developed a proposal for Plaza de las Americas for a collective restaurant seating area and series of pop-up gardens to encourage purchase of take-out from nearby restaurants and to provide green spaces at this largely paved plaza.

    Informational Materials
    Design Advocates created a print pamphlet for businesses as well as commercial property owners, to show the potential for pop-up activations in vacant storefronts.

    Small Business Support
    In collaboration with Word Up Community Bookshop, the team designed Community Blocks, a flexible outdoor kit-of-parts that can be arranged to create a variety of structures that support educational programming, serve as a civic gathering space or help local businesses move their operations into the public realm. The team also worked with Sisters Uptown to design custom outdoor retail and seating for their facade.

    Presentation Proposal

    The use of the information contained in this proposal document, “Neighborhoods Now: Washington Heights Working Group Final Report,” 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.