How Local Initiatives Are Achieving an Age-Friendly NYC

Event: NYC Council Priorities for an Age-Friendly NYC
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.18.11
Speaker: Jessica Lappin — Chair, NYC Council Committee on Aging
Organizer: AIANY Design for Aging Committee


Safe Streets for Seniors

NYC Department of Transportation

“How do we want to be judged as a society?” asked Council Member Jessica Lappin, chair of the NYC Council Committee on Aging. Part of the answer, she said, is how we help those in need — specifically, how we help seniors maintain active and independent lives. Lappin has been involved in a number of initiatives that not only help the aging population, but also positively contribute to the physical environment in ways that benefit children, women with baby carriages, and people with physical disabilities, among others.

To fulfill the needs of a majority of seniors, a recent competition was held by the Department for the Aging in conjunction with the NYC Council and the Council of Senior Centers & Services to develop the city’s first “Innovative Senior Centers.” The goal is to provide communities in all five boroughs with 50 senior centers that offer comprehensive arrays of expanded services for a broad range of seniors. The first eight contracts have been announced, and the centers are expected to open in January.

Another architectural competition that Lappin is co-sponsoring, “Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan’s East River Esplanade, 60th-125th Streets,” aims to generate ideas and concepts that will enhance the pedestrian experience on the East Side for all age groups. The competition is part of a larger effort to create a continuous bike/running/walking path around the edge of Manhattan.

In addition to launching design competitions, Lappin has been involved in other initiatives to help the aging population, as well. The Complete Streets Initiative, specifically the TrafficStat bill requiring the Police Department to publicize data on accidents that occur at dangerous intersections, went into effect this month. With the NYC Department of Buildings and AARP, she is working toward implementing universal design principles into new construction processes.

The efforts of AIANY and the Design for Aging Committee have not gone unnoticed, Lappin said. The committee’s “Top 10 Ways Architects Can Become Age-Friendly” and “Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines for an Age-Friendly New York City” documents have been helpful in her efforts. Hopefully the architecture community can continue to work with the city to develop a more age-friendly NYC.