W is part of a working group collaborating with the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute on Neighborhoods Now to connect four neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Working groups are developing safe and effective reopening strategies for Bed-Stuy, Jackson Heights, Kingsbridge, and Washington Heights.
In New York City and across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. This crisis threatens to shutter small businesses and expand the racial wealth gap in neighborhoods that already lack access to resources and capital as a result of long-term structural inequity and racism. In response, and in a move to channel the talent of New York’s top design firms into these communities’ recovery, the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute have launched Neighborhoods Now.
As the city reopens on a broader scale, this initiative provides the opportunity for experimentation and innovation at the neighborhood level. With each neighborhood represented by a leading local organization, working groups will develop tailored solutions for shared gathering spaces in Bed-Stuy, Jackson Heights, Kingsbridge, and Washington Heights, which may include restaurants, storefronts, civic and cultural organizations, parks, and streets.
The outcome will be a set of design recommendations, prototypes, and installations empowering communities to respond to their immediate needs, while contributing to the city-wide strategy on pandemic response.
Recommendations may address:
- How to reconfigure businesses to protect workers and customers
- How to outfit community parks and gardens for social distancing
- How to navigate permitting for sidewalk or parking lane temporary uses
- How to repurpose vacant spaces as places for convening, culture, and healing
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