Placemaking Evaluation Fellowship


    Providing hands-on experience evaluating the power of design to bring life to public spaces.

    Van Alen Block Party, October 22, 2022. Photo: Argenis Apolinario


    The Van Alen Placemaking Evaluation Fellowship provides hands-on experience evaluating the power of design to bring life to public spaces. Seven undergraduate and graduate students evaluate the quality of public life at 2-3 sites in New York City using the tools and methods of Gehl, a pioneer in understanding how design of public spaces can improve civic life.

    Participants gain the opportunity to learn valuable skills in evaluating public spaces, while exploring the city through Van Alen’s co-produced installations and programs, and sharing their insights and skills with Van Alen’s community organization partners.

    With the support of the Senior Fellow the cohort take its collected data and observations, and produce a variety of creative, impactful images that express the insights they have gained into how public spaces serve communities, and how those spaces might be made more inclusive.

    Core Components

    • In-person training on using Gehl’s Public Life Tools
    • Collecting data on-site at the Van Alen Block Party in Gowanus
    • Collecting data on-site at 2-3 installations co-produced by Van Alen Institute in NYC
    • Educational workshop on methodologies for observing and analyzing public life in public spaces
    • Learning how insights are applied in Van Alen’s partner organizations
    • Optional field trip to share fellows’ observations and skills with Van Alen’s community partners in Albany, NY

    Meet the Fellows

    Who They’re Working With

    What They’re Working On

    Neighborhoods Now: Bed-Stuy Gateway BID

    Building on Winter Wonderland, an open-air holiday market supporting local small businesses.

    Common Build

    Surfacing the work of emerging designers and testing new strategies to bring people together in public space.

    Van Alen Block Party 2022

    Thank you to everyone who came out for our second annual Van Alen Block Party on October 22, 2022! This spectacular day was made possible by the help of our Gowanus Fellows, along with our generous supporters and the countless performers, vendors, and volunteers who transformed a Brooklyn block into an epic celebration of community and public space.


    Andrew Brown

    Director of Programs