Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, FAICP, opened the program and presented the city’s plan to address greater accessibility, sustainability, and equity in parks.

Equity in Process and Design: The Community Parks Initiative

The Public Design Commission of the City of New York (PDC) and the AIANY Public Architecture Committee hosted Design and Equity: The Community Parks Initiative, the first in a series of programs about the role of design equity in the public realm, on 06.17.15. According to the panelists, parks are not just playgrounds. They should be dynamic outdoor community centers. Under the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) is actively investing in underserved public parks in neighborhoods in all five boroughs desperately in need of public space.

Commissioner of Parks Mitchell Silver, FAICP, opened the program and presented the city’s plan to address greater accessibility, sustainability, and equity in parks. To him, equity is all about fairness. He is committed to making the design process and the distribution of resources fair. By partnering with other city agencies, community groups, and private designers early on, Parks is working to democratize public parks, and ensure that each space properly addresses the needs of its specific neighborhood while also expediting the design, approval, and construction processes.

Parks has facilitated extensive scoping meetings and outreach efforts that engage community members, allowing park users of all ages to reimagine the programs for these underutilized spaces. Although each neighborhood has a different profile and separate set of needs, the projects are generally moving away from Robert Moses-era hardscapes in favor of green infrastructure and multipurpose spaces.

Panelists Signe Nielsen, RLA, FASLA, Terri-Lee Burger, RLA, and John P. Williams, ASLA, spoke to the power of these community engagement sessions and the impact they have had on the park designs.

Pulse Points

  • Crain’s published an op-ed written by AIANY’s Interim Executive Director, David Burney, FAIA. The piece emphasizes the need for NYCHA’s “NextGeneration NYCHA” plan to focus more on good design.
  • AIANY is working with the other AIA chapters in NYC to advocate for support the NYC Department of City Planning’s (DCP) Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal. DCP has continued to solicit input from preservation groups, community boards, and professional organizations and has made alterations to the plan based on that feedback. In preparation for the public review process, AIANY continues to assist in explaining the proposal’s benefits to fellow architects and the community.
  • On 06.16.15, AIANY held its 148th Annual Meeting, during which Chapter leadership conferred awards and citations, celebrated progress, voted on bylaws updates, and confirmed the 2016 Board of Directors. See the meeting summary here.
  • The NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Board approved the inaugural issuance of Sustainable Neighborhood Bonds and $953 million in financing for 27 affordable housing developments throughout the city.
  • The AIANY Design for Aging Committee participated in a public hearing on Access-Friendly NYC at Brooklyn Borough Hall on 06.09.15.
  • The Emergency Responder Act (S.4238-A/A.6214-A), which would provide important protections for architects and others in the design and construction industry when aiding government in disaster response and recovery efforts, passed in the New York State Senate on 06.16.15. Please reach out to your New York State Assemblymember and ask them to pass it in the Assembly.