1. Outdoor Theater Plans and Barrier

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    There are currently little to no regulations for how small arts institutions should handle reopening. More prominent museums and theaters were given guidelines and support for safety, but many FAB organizations needed community assistance to find safe and effective ways to reopen.

    The Henning Larsen group proposed plans that follow DOT regulations for restaurants and open streets. Based on the NYC Open Restaurant guidelines and social distancing guidelines, the individual and group audience members must be seated within a minimum distance of 6′ of each other. There are a variety of seating layouts possible depending on the space provided.

    This outdoor barricade will follow the regulations set for the NYC Open Restaurants, they are intended to be permanent barricades in parking spaces along the business frontage. They are inspected thoroughly and must follow the following regulations:

    30″-36″ in height
    18″ width

    Must have retroreflective tape

    Standard plywood sheets
    Wood screws

    2″ x 4″ (length flexible)

    Seating Layouts



    FABnyc is a team of  artists and organizers working to preserve, sustain, and grow the cultural vibrancy of the Lower East Side neighborhood. FABnyc was founded in 2001 by…

    The Urban Design Forum is an independent membership organization that advances bold solutions to urban challenges. Our Fellows are architects, landscape architects, planners, developers, public officials, scholars, activists, lawyers…

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    With offices around the globe housing specialized design expertise, your integrated design team is backed by the more than 1,000+ design professionals and the resources of the entire firm….

    Francis Cauffman has broad expertise in our core disciplines, deep industry resources, and top talent. We provide architecture, interior design, and planning services in four major areas of focus:…

    Henning Larsen is an international studio for architecture, landscape, and urbanism. At the heart of our design philosophy is the play of light and nature. We bring joy to…

  2. Neighborhoods Now: In Conversation with Ryan Gilliam

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    We’re excited to continue our Neighborhoods Now initiative with Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and Think!Chinatown in Chinatown and Banana Kelly in the South Bronx. Additionally, we expanded our partnership with FABnyc in the Lower East Side. These working groups will re-energize outdoor spaces to support community programming and cultural revitalization.

    This spring, we’re chatting with representatives of each organization to learn more more about their history, some neighborhood insights, and what they hope to achieve through Neighborhoods Now. Below, catch up with Ryan Gilliam, Executive Director, FABnyc. Marvel, SHoP, and Buro Happold will be helping FABnyc expand their Neighborhoods Now collaboration with four new member organizations: Frankel Theatre, KGB Bar / Red Room, Loisaida Inc., and Performance Space New York. Together they will develop reopening strategies tailored to needs of smaller performing arts organizations, including ways to participate in New York City’s Open Culture program.

    Van Alen Institute (VA): Tell us a little bit about your organization.

    Ryan Gilliam (RG): FABnyc began as a coalition of arts and community organizations on East 4th Street working together to stay in a handful of city buildings which we’d fixed up over several decades. With broad community support, we were successful in stopping them from going to auction and instead transferred to local groups, establishing the East 4th Street Cultural District, the densest single block of arts activity in NYC. FABnyc’s mission grew and today we focus on the cultural vitality of the entire Lower East Side.

    VA: What types of work has your organization been involved in and what are some issues that this community still faces?

    RG: The Lower East Side has been struggling with the ongoing impacts of gentrification and displacement. Despite tremendous pressure, residents have organized successfully in ways that have protected affordable housing, supported small businesses, deepened resilience, and preserved the diverse cultural character of the community. FABnyc is a partner to the community, bringing artists and arts practices to creatively collaborate in addressing community issues.

    VA: What makes this neighborhood special?

    RG: The Lower East Side — which we define by its historic boundaries from 14th Street to Canal, the East River to Chinatown — has a remarkable history as a home to working class and poor immigrants, artists, radicals, and visionaries. The LES has a long history as an inclusive, welcoming place with a creative spirit and commitment to social justice. The murals, bodegas, community gardens, active social service organizations, small theaters, restaurants, political vibrancy, and street life all reflect that character.

    “The LES has a long history as an inclusive, welcoming place with a creative spirit and commitment to social justice.”

    VA: What are some neighborhood spots that are most important to people in this community?

    RG: Honestly, there are too many to name. We love our open spaces like Tompkins Square, festivals like the Loisaida Festival, hole-in-the-wall bars, tiny restaurants where they know you. We have a lot to mourn that’s been lost to displacement, so we tend to make strong attachments to those who have deep roots here — the theaters of 4th Street, the settlement houses, the entire bustling hub that is Chinatown — but also the people, so many of whom have spoken out, organized, and fought to keep the spirit and connectedness of community alive.

    VA: What are you hoping to achieve through this partnership and where are you now in your work with Neighborhoods Now?

    RG: We have not only been able to prepare more than a dozen performing arts organizations for re-opening after a year of closure, but we are now working with our design partners to celebrate FABnyc’s 20th year, by imagining the next 20. It’s a unique opportunity to create a real vision of our mission — to imagine ways to support the cultural life of a community while centering that vision in equity, access, and resiliency. We’ve just had our first brainstorm together and are excited for what’s to come.

    About Neighborhoods Now

    Neighborhoods Now emerged from the belief that every New York City neighborhood should have equitable access to design resources that support community needs. By building interdisciplinary partnerships, the initiative supports local organizations leading their communities’ recovery. To date, Neighborhoods Now has mobilized more than 70 firms to channel pro-bono resources into eleven neighborhood organizations, resulting in strategies for safe reopening of civic and cultural organizations, creative programming in public space, and customized designs for restaurants and storefronts.

    The program is a collaboration between the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute.