What is this website?

This is a digital toolkit featuring designs, guidelines, and strategies to aid safe reopening and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Each tool you find here was created by neighborhood-specific coalitions of community organizations, architects, engineers, lawyers, and planners. They came together as part of Neighborhoods Now, a rapid-response initiative launched by New York-based nonprofits Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute.

This site will continue to be updated with additional designs and strategies from the Neighborhoods Now working groups over time. Detailed reports from each group, posted on the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute websites, provide full context for each resource and greater insight into this collaborative, community-led process.

Questions? Contact us at info@urbandesignforum.org or vai@vanalen.org.

More about Neighborhoods Now

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, the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute launched Neighborhoods Now to channel pro-bono resources from New York-based design firms into community-driven recovery strategies.

Throughout the summer, neighborhood organizations across four boroughs collaborated with architects, engineers, lawyers, and planners from Van Alen and Urban Design Forum’s collective network. These rapid-response collaborations have resulted in many successes, as well as many lessons learned that will inform the initiative as it moves forward.

The outcomes are a set of design recommendations and prototypes addressing immediate needs for COVID-19 awareness campaigns, open air dining, and outdoor education and wellness activities. Neighborhoods’ needs also went beyond design and physical interventions. To date, the working groups have organized financial workshops for small businesses, drafted legal templates, and collaborated with senior staff at City agencies to help neighborhoods access programs like Open Streets and Open Restaurants.

Van Alen and Urban Design Forum are actively fundraising to support additional implementation. To help these efforts, click here to learn about sponsorship opportunities.