Reimagining Vacant Lots for Arts Institutions

In absence of any formal guidelines for small arts institutions, many of the proposals outlined by the FAB team are a starting points for reopening. FABnyc, on behalf of its member organizations and in coordination with the Merchant’s House Museum, is in the process of requesting the vacant lot at 35 East 4th Street to be used as outdoor performance and community space during the pandemic. 

DLR Group participated in a call with NYC DEP and FABnyc to understand the existing constraints of the site and potential options for interim programming. The flat open surface, spaciousness, and location separate from residential apartments make it a promising option for outdoor arts and cultural programming, both during and after the pandemic. 

Eventually, the lot will be transferred to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and is slated to be converted into a public park in the next two years. NYC DEP shared a preliminary concept design of such a conversation with FABnyc and DLR Group. 

Taking the above information into account, DLR Group provided FABnyc with interim use scenarios for the lot at 35 E. 4th Street that maintain social distancing and public health protocols. DLR Group also developed revised design recommendations for the existing Parks and Recreation concept design, making it more amenable to a variety of programming options well into the future. 

Throughout the five boroughs and in many other cities, there are vacant lots that can be repurposed to host activities in a safe, socially distanced way. During warmer months, this could be an ideal way to keep small arts institutions in business and engaged with the community.


Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Community Partner: Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc)

Coordinating Firm: DLR Group, Francis Cauffman Architects, and Henning Larsen