Graphic: Project Fellows

In partnership with eight arts institutions, the NYC Department of City Planning, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Design Trust investigated how the flourishing cultural institutions of Long Island City can be integrated into the area’s hybrid fabric of commerce, industry, and residential use. Connecting the Arts offers a model for cultural planning and implementation of urban design improvements that can be used in other areas of the city interested in promoting cultural tourism.


The project publication, Long Island City: Connecting the Arts, serves as a blueprint for cultural development in the evolution of Long Island City. Specific recommendations employ unconventional urban planning tools, such as web- or telecom-based wayfinding, underused public transportation such as bicycle sharing, and identity strategies that exploit Long Island City's landscape of signage.  Although many of these strategies remain long-term goals, simple changes like the adoption of the graphic identity developed by the project team are being made by the Long Island City Cultural Alliance


Nine major cultural institutions make their home in Long Island City, Queens, a vibrant mixed-use community occupying approximately 500 square city blocks in western Queens. Originally attracted by the proximity to Manhattan and availability of large spaces at relatively low cost, these cultural institutions later came to recognize that the neighborhood's industrial character discouraged some visitors.

To develop a plan to overcome these barriers, the Long Island City Cultural Alliance (LICCA), with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and City Planning, approached the Design Trust in 2002 and proposed a study of the relationship between Long Island City, its cultural institutions, and the ways that residents and visitors discover and access these institutions. 


The project focused specifically on Long Island City’s cultural institutions in developing a framework for how to create and sustain the uniquely mixed character of Long Island City, while improving accessibility, open space, and visual and physical design features. Issues of particular importance were: vehicular and pedestrian traffic, orientation and identity, the implications of day time/night time uses and weekday/weekend uses, and understanding the jumps in urban scale that are planned for future development.

The Fellow team (an architect, historian and graphic designer) determined that the concept of a pedestrian arts district was not appropriate for Long Island City because of the distances between cultural institutions and the neighborhood's disorienting infrastructure. Ultimately, they developed a strategy that uses Long Island City's industrial history as a cultural asset and outlines branding concepts to strengthen the area's identity as an arts destination. 

Long Island City's cultural organizations do not form a traditional arts district but a cluster of affiliated arts institutions, knit together experientially by individuals, ideas, and programs rather than by physical proximity. This arts network can be strengthened through programming, a common identity, and continued outreach.

Long Island City: Connecting the Arts [6]

Key Milestones

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Select project

December 2002

The jury selects the project proposal from the Long Island City Cultural Alliance, a group of nine major cultural institutions, which seeks to "establish Long Island City as a cultural destination by creating a strong identity for the district."

Define scope

April 2003

Together with the project partners we determine the scope and budget for the project. 

Assemble team

September 2003

We assemble an interdisciplinary team of Fellows to lead the project's research, including a historian / writer, a graphic designer, and an architect / urban designer. 

Conduct research

November 2003

The Fellow team researches the history, zoning and development of Long Island City to begin the project. 

Create the Long Is City brand

January 2004

Graphic Design Fellow David Reinfurt creates an identity for the neighborhood, taking inspiration from the famous Pepsi sign in Long Island City. 

Produce brochure

May 2004

The new "Long Is City" debuts in the form of 50,000 print brochures which LICCA distributes around NYC to promote cultural programs and events happening in the neighborhood. 

Testing - Billboard demo

May 2004

A set of 10 different posters are installed on street-level billboards at subway entrances throughout Long Island City, demonstrating the different arts identity concepts developed by the Fellows. 

Photo: Alex Klein

Testing - Arts & Factory Tours

June 2004

Six tours lead the public from cultural institutions to factories and creative studios nearby, demonstrating the creative network in place in Long Island City. 

Synthesize and produce

February 2005

The Fellows and staff synthesize the project research and recommendations and begin working on the final publication. 

Design: Claudia Brandenburg

Promote and inform

September 2005

LICCA creates and distributes 500 t-shirts featuring the new “Long Is City” brand to promote the neighborhood as a cultural destination.    

Design: David Reinfurt

Release findings

May 2006

The project publication, "Long Island City: Connecting the Arts" is released at a public launch party at the Sculpture Center.