Opening the Edge 2016–

Together with community members, we’re developing a prototype for a lively public space on the Lillian Wald Houses, which could be replicated at other NYCHA developments.

  1. Phase I
  2. Phase II
Opening the Edge Community Meeting 2017.03.15_01
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Photo: Jourdan Sayers, Design Trust Equitable Public Space Fellow

Many public housing residents in New York City do not have access to green space outside their doorsteps. Fenced and unusable grass spaces surround many developments limiting opportunities for social interaction and recreational activities. Opening the Edge, proposed by public artist Jane Greengold and in partnership with the city's housing authority NYCHA, aims to create a public space prototype on one such grassy area at the Lillian Wald Houses on the Lower East Side. 

In the first phase of the project, we brought together a group of Wald residents as the “Community Design Team” to discuss how they would like to use their green space. They provided guidance on local issues and maintenance concerns. 

The community team designed an accessible and welcoming public space for the currently inaccessible green lot located between 3rd and 4th Streets on Avenue D. This would be a paved area with benches, a stage, a multi-purpose stepped mound, new lighting, and a new tree. See the design. 

The next step is to develop further and construct this design. Help us Take Down the Fences and build the Wald Houses community's vision for a vibrant public space!

"It’s essential that this new public space be constructed, to show both our Community Design Team that their significant efforts were not in vain, and NYCHA, that their partnership with the Design Trust led to a valuable design process and a great design."

JANE GREENGOLD, Opening the Edge Participatory Art Fellow

Imagine co-designing a space with a team of residents and input from over 4000 of their neighbors! I can honestly say without their continued involvement, guidance, and acceptance into their community, we would not have arrived at what we have accomplished together.

Emmanuel Oni, Opening the Edge Active Design Fellow

Key Milestones

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Conduct Request for Proposals

July 2014

An independent jury selected a proposal by public artist Jane Greengold to partner with the Design Trust in creating a public space prototype in an underutilized grassy area of a NYCHA development.

Photo: William Michael Fredericks

Finalize scope

June 2016

We conducted a site selection process and engaged with residents of Wald Houses, community organizations, and NYCHA staff.

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Assemble the Design Trust Fellows team

September 2016

We announced a team of Fellows with expertise in community organizing, landscape architecture, active design, lighting, and art, led by Jane Greengold.

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Convene a Community Design Team

October 2016

A group of Wald Houses residents formed a Community Design Team to brainstorm and develop a design for a lively public space.

Photos: Destiny Mata, Opening the Edge Community Organizing Fellow

Community Design Team meets regularly

October 2016

The Design Trust Fellows facilitated visioning sessions with residents at the Wald Houses.

Photo: Destiny Mata, Opening the Edge Community Organizing Fellow

Explore the site

November 2016

The Community Design Team reviewed the opportunities and challenges on-site.

Photo: Jane Greengold, Opening the Edge Participatory Art Fellow

Create guiding principles

December 2016

The Community Design Team identified common goals and values.

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Build on the culture of the place

January 2017

The Community Design Team shared memories of living in the Wald Houses and talked about the neighborhood's history.

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Form follows function

February 2017

The Community Design Team explored possible uses and design ideas based on their needs as residents. 

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Develop preliminary designs

March 2017

The Community Design Team developed various design concepts.

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Refine the design

April 2017

The Community Design Team decided on a design direction after rounds of visualization and assessment.

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

Solicit additional input

May 2017

The Community Design Team gathered feedback from their neighbors. 

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow

The final design is ready!

June 2017

Rendering: Opening the Edge Fellows

Build it!

June 2017

The Design Trust Fellows and the Community Design Team are now working to increase outreach among the larger Wald Houses community. We're also raising funds to bring the community vision to life!

Photo: Jourdan Sayers, 2016-17 Equitable Public Space Fellow
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