Mapping Our Impact in New York City

Sonic Gates

NYC's first sound sculpture walk

We helped Staten Island artists realize their vision for the largest public art series on the North Shore. 

High Line Park

Reclaiming a derelict railway

We saved the High Line from demolition. 

Learn about ways to work with us on a project.

What makes a city healthy? We asked New Yorkers.

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What makes a city healthy? We asked New Yorkers. Page of

"With Alfresco NYC, we are utilizing design-thinking to create a better permanent outdoor dining program and rethink community use of city sidewalks."

The Latest News

New Toolkit for Public Housing Residents: Call for Fellows!

January 4, 2024

Highlights From Our History

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  1. Design Trust for Public Space is Established

    April 1995

    Andrea Woodner–a sculptor trained as an architect and a native New Yorker–has a vision for an organization that can transform the life of the city by connecting city agencies with the burgeoning design community. She names it "Design Trust for Public Space" to reflect the mission of bringing design expertise and design thinking to the public realm. 

  2. Design Trust Completes First Project

    July 1996

    The Design Trust's inaugural project – conducted in partnership with the NYC Department of Design & Construction and Brooklyn Public Library – focused on bringing design excellence to each and every branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system. 

  3. Design Trust Issues First Request-for-Proposals

    October 1996

    Three projects are selected from our first Request-for-Proposals: Designing for Children, Designing for Security, and the Diego Beekman Houses Design Workshop

  4. Design Trust Publishes High Performance Building Guidelines

    April 1999

    Eight years before PlaNYC, the Design Trust produces a set of high performance guidelines to make city buildings more energy-efficient and environmentally-responsible. 

  5. First High Performance Building Opens

    December 1999

    The South Jamaica Branch Library was the first building designed and constructed using the Design Trust's High Performance Building Guidelines

    Courtesy Architizer
  6. Design Trust Publishes Pivotal Study to Save the High Line

    February 2002

    The High Line is a derelict piece of urban infrastructure scheduled for demolition. Our feasibility study leads to the City's decision to preserve and transform the elevated railway into public open space.

  7. Design Trust Launches the Photo Urbanism Program

    August 2002

    The winners of the first Photo Urbanism fellowship are the photography team of Cook+Jenshel, who focus on documenting the city's waterfront. 

  8. Community Gardens Preserved in the Bronx

    September 2002

    Due in part to the Design Trust's Housing & Open Space project,75% of the community gardens in Bronx Community Board 3 are preserved by an agreement between Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the Bloomberg administration. Read the article. 

  9. Demolition Order on High Line is Rescinded

    December 2002

    Ten months after we released our feasibility study for the High Line, Mayor Bloomberg's administration requests a Certificate of Interim Use to railbank the High Line, effectively rescinding the outstanding demolition order. 

    Photo: Joel Sternfeld 
  10. Diego Beekman Houses Residents Take Ownership

    January 2003

    As a result of our Diego Beekman project, tenants take ownership of 38 buildings in the South Bronx, billed as "the largest tenant takeover of a federal housing project in the country." 

  11. Pedestrian-Mobility Plan Inspires Transformation of Times Square

    June 2004

    Problems & Possibilities outlines practical solutions to the chaotic conditions and traffic congestion plaguing Times Square, spurring a radical transformation of the “Crossroads of the World.”

  12. NYC Passes One of Nation's First Green Building Laws

    October 2005

    Our High Performance Infrastructure Guidelines led to the City of New York establishing its commitment to green building practices by passing one of the country's first green building laws, Local Law 86 (LL86). 

  13. Design Trust Mounts Large-Scale Exhibit of New Taxi Designs

    April 2007

    Garnering over 100,000 visitors in just 12 days, the Taxi 07 exhibit demonstrates to the world that it’s time to bring design innovation to New York City’s taxi fleet.   

  14. Design Trust Launches Design Trust Council

    May 2007

    With an intimate talk between writers Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnick at the Museum of Modern Art, the Design Trust launches the Design Trust Council, a new leadership circle. 

  15. NYC Launches "Taxi of Tomorrow" Competition

    February 2008

    As a direct result of the Design Trust’s Taxi 07 project, NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission launches the Taxi of Tomorrow program, soliciting responses from automakers around the world to create a new, purpose-built taxi exclusively for New York City.

  16. Design Trust Holds First Public Space Potluck

    September 2008

    A new program of pop-up dinner parties in public space is born with the first "Public Space Potluck" in the center of Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn. 

  17. NYC Delays Rezoning Plan for Garment District

    June 2010

    With our Made in Midtown study, we succeed in shifting the debate about the Garment District, resulting in the City's decision to put their plan to force garment production out of the District on hold.

  18. Design Trust Produces Comprehensive Urban Agriculture Study

    July 2012

    Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture in New York City establishes the nation's first set of metrics to measure the benefits of urban agriculture and recommends ways to expand urban agriculture in NYC.

  19. Design Trust Named to "Public Interest Design 100" List

    December 2012

  20. First Taxi of Tomorrow Cabs Hit the Streets of New York

    October 2013

    After two years of design and development, the first Taxi of Tomorrow vehicles hit the streets of NYC on October 31st, delighting passengers and drivers alike. 

    Photo: Vinoodh Chandar
  21. Record Number of Proposals for Connecting New Yorkers

    May 2014

    The Energetic City request for proposals attracts over 90 proposals to give life to the city by connecting people through innovative design informed by the needs and aspirations of community users.

    Design: Deutsch NY 
  22. Jane Jacobs Forum Features Our Boogie Down Booth

    October 2014

    The Boogie Down Booth, our temporary installation below the elevated 2/5 subway tracks in the Bronx, is honored by MAS as one of the three "Projects that Ignite!" at their Jane Jacobs Forum.

    Photo: Rucha Mandlik
  23. Design Trust Releases "Under the Elevated"

    June 2015

    The Design Trust issues the groundbreaking policy principles and research, Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities, unleashing the tremendous potential of the millions of square feet below elevated transit infrastructure in NYC.

  24. "Taxi of Tomorrow" is official.

    September 2015

    The Taxi of Tomorrow becomes NYC’s yellow cab standard. Read more. 

    Photo: Nissan North America 
  25. 20th Anniversary

    October 2015

    Design Trust celebrates 20 years of innovative work and our 20/20 Public Space Champions, who have been dedicated to improving the daily life of all New Yorkers. Read more.

    Photo: Liz Ligon
  26. Design Trust receives the Olmsted Medal

    November 2015

    We received the Olmsted Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

    Photo: Kathleen Fox
  27. New Alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

    November 2015

    The newly formed Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance, and corresponding Community Advisory Board, includes our Community Advisors from The World’s Park – a Design Trust project to foster planning, design, and stewardship skills for the community to improve and maintain the park.

  28. "Laying the Groundwork" Becomes the Blueprint for New York City

    January 2016

    Design Trust, in partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, issues Laying the Groundwork, the first comprehensive design guidelines for retail and other ground-floor uses in affordable housing developments. 

  29. Times Square Plaza Legislation Passes

    April 2016

    Design Trust played a major role in building support for the Intro. 1109 Pedestrian Plaza Legislation. The new bill gives the NYC Department of Transportation the authority to manage and regulate pedestrian plazas throughout the city, without banning any category of activity.

    Photo: A Better Times Square
  30. Design Trust receives the Frederic Schwartz Award

    October 2016

    We received the Frederic Schwartz Community Development Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York State.

    Image: Courtesy of the AIA New York State
  31. Design Trust introduced the Public for All citywide open call for projects

    April 2017

     On April 26, 2017, we unveiled Public for All: Rethinking Shared Space in NYC, an open call for project ideas to ensure New York City’s public realm remains truly public. For Public for All—the Design Trust’s 10th Request for Proposals in 22 years—we sought innovative ideas for creating more accessible, resourceful public spaces and sustainable models for their operation and maintenance to strengthen the voice of communities and enliven neighborhoods.

  32. Design Trust receives a National Design Award

    May 2017

    We received the Corporate & Institutional Achievement Award of the 2017 National Design Awards from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

    Image: Courtesy of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  33. NYCxDesign presents "Discover El-Space" at Sunset Park pilot installation

    May 2018

    On May 17, 18The El-Space Forum brought together experts from across North America to advance the emerging field of planning and designing "el-space", laying the groundwork for the El-Space Toolkit

    Photo: Sam Lahoz
  34. New Legislation Pushes to expand Urban Agriculture in New York City

    August 2018

    Working with Council Member Rafael L. Espinal Jr. and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, the Design Trust for Public Space has contributed to efforts for  new legislations aiming to put New York City at the forefront of the urban agriculture movement in the United States. Read more

    Design Trust for Public Space
  35. Opening the Edge receives $680,000 capital funding

    June 2019

    Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council member Carlina Rivera allocated $680K in the FY20 City Capital Budget for the Opening of the Edge prototype installation at the NYCHA Lillian Wald Houses! Read more

    Ryanna Fossum
  36. Design Trust wins REDC Grant for Equitable Public Space Fellowship

    December 2019

    Design Trust was awarded a two-year grant of $117,500 from Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative through the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in support of our Equitable Public Space Fellowship program.

    From left: Eve Klein, Luisa Santos, and Nyree Ramsey at the El-Space Forum. Photo: Sam Lahoz
  37. Design Trust Launches El-Space Toolkit

    February 2020

    The Design Trust for Public Space and the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) launched the El-Space Toolkit at the Center for Architecture hosted by AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, attended by practitioners from Boston, Toronto and New York City. Watch the full launch video and download the toolkit here

  38. Matthew Clarke Appointed Executive Director of the Design Trust

    May 2020

    Matthew joins Design Trust as it celebrates 25 years of unlocking the potential of New York City’s shared spaces and brings valuable expertise to help guide the nonprofit into its next chapter as we together navigate this unprecedented and challenging time ahead for NYC's public realm. Read the Announcement.

  39. Design Trust Joins the Alfresco NYC Coalition to Support Open Streets

    August 2021

    As open streets and open restaurants become permanent in New York City, the Alfresco NYC coalition launched the Alfresco Awards to recognize the city’s best outdoor dining spaces and open streets, and celebrate street life across the five boroughs. The coalition, including Design Trust, Regional Plan Association and Tri-State Transportation Campaign, offers recommendations for rationalizing and equalizing outdoor dining spaces as the initiative becomes a permanent fixture of NYC life. Learn more about the project.
  40. Restorative City RFP Builds Community Wellness Through Public Space

    September 2021

    Design Trust for Public Space launches its 11th RFP cycle with a focus on health equity and the built environment. Meet the Winners.

  41. Photo Urbanism Showcased in Times Square

    December 2021

    Photo Urbanism Fellow Barnabas Crosby’s Work is Showcased in Times Square Over New Year’s Eve. View the final exhibition featured in the Brooklyn Public Library here.

  42. Neighborhood Commons Releases New Toolkit of Recommendations to Support Public Spaces in Commercial Corridors

    April 2022

    From the Design Trust for Public Space supported by a grant from NYC Department of Small Business Services, the publication explores best policy practices for public space governance in under-resourced neighborhoods. Explore the Toolkit.

  43. Turnout NYC Pilots New Venues for Equitable Arts Access Across New York City

    May 2022

    The Design Trust for Public Space collaborates with SITU, an architectural practice centered on social and creative impact, on a major, citywide effort to connect artists to the potential of public space, through new partnerships and infrastructure. Learn More Here.

  44. Design Trust Announces Green Space Connections

    November 2022

    The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announce a grant of $3.2 million over three years for the Fund for Public Housing to create and activate green space at four NYCHA public housing developments, supported by the Design Trust for Public Space and benefiting 14,000 residents in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Learn more about the resident-led participatory design process.

  45. Alfresco NYC Releases Outdoor Dining Design Guidelines

    November 2022

    As the City works to create a permanent Open Restaurants Program , the Alfresco NYC coalition, led by the Design Trust for Public Space, Regional Plan Association, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign, released an extensive report, “The Future of Outdoor Dining in New York City.” listing design guidelines and policy recommendations for outdoor dining installations, based on months of site visits, roundtable discussions, research, and individual interviews.


  46. The Neurodiverse City Imagines Inclusive Public Spaces

    January 2023

    The Design Trust, Verona Carpenter Architects, WIP Collaborative, and a network of disability advocates partner on a new initiative to reimagine New York City public spaces — streets, parks, playgrounds, plazas, and more — for neurodiversity. This project was a winner of the Design Trust’s Request for Proposals, The Restorative City, themed around building community wellness through public space.

    Image: Sean Ahlquist, SensoryPlayscape
  47. The Restorative City Convening 2023

    May 2023

    The Design Trust for Public Space hosted a one-day convening bringing together urban planners, city officials, neighborhood advocates, and public health experts to center health equity in the design and planning of New York City. This special event elevated important conversations about community health, environmental justice, social resilience, and design excellence as core drivers of how New Yorkers, especially those most vulnerable, can thrive, beginning an open, inclusive call to action for New York City's next chapter. Watch here.

  48. "Three Lots" Displayed at Brooklyn Public Library

    July 2023

    Design Trust Photo Urbanism Fellow Elliott Golden presents a case study of three vacant lots, using a combination of mixed-media collages and photographs that document the distinct, but related, histories of the vacancies, their current condition, and the people and organizations advocating for more equitable and restorative uses of the land. On display at the Brooklyn Public Library New Lots Branch in July 2023

    Elliott Golden, "Three Lots" Final Exhibition
  49. Public Space Potlucks are Back!

    July 2023

    For the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown, our beloved public space potlucks returned with a communal dinner at at the new Gotham Park (formerly Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan!) Free and open to all, Public Space Potlucks gather urban enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds together for a shared meal and an opportunity to learn more about current public space projects.

  50. NYC Outdoor Dining and Open Streets are Here to Stay!

    August 2023

    City Council voted yes on a permanent Open Restaurants bill. With the Alfresco NYC coalition, Design Trust has been advocating for clear design guidelines for the long-term program and how we can better utilize our curbs for community use beyond the emergency pandemic measures.

  51. A New Mural is Painted at NYCHA’s Patterson Houses

    August 2023

    Green Space Connections project unveils a new community mural at NYCHA’s Patterson Houses in the Bronx, the latest in a series of events empowering New York City Housing Authority residents to design their own community spaces.

    Photo Liz Martinez, Bronx Times
  52. Turnout NYC receives Innovation by Design Award

    August 2023

    Our Turnout NYC project was named a finalist in Fast Company's Innovation by Design Awards Social Justice category for creating new public art infrastructure across the five boroughs.

  53. Photo Urbanism x Green Space Connections

    December 2023

    We are awarded our 2023 Photo Urbanism Fellowship to NYCHA resident Latricia Morgan to document community at New York public housing campuses alongside the Green Space Connections project, a collaboration with the Public Housing Community Fund and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to create and activate community-designed green space at four NYCHA public housing developments for 14,000 residents in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

    Photo by Latricia Morgan
  54. Turnout NYC releases final report on new visions for local arts

    January 2024

    In response to the pandemic, the Turnout NYC project provided infrastructure support for New York City-based cultural organizations, while expanding access to local arts programming in public spaces across the five boroughs. 

    What can the city learn from creating new venues and empowering community anchors? Read the Turnout NYC final report.

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