Green Space Connections 2022–

Green Space Connections is creating and activating community-designed open space at four NYCHA public housing developments with and for 14,000 residents in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

To amplify the lessons of the project and empower a wider reach of New York public housing residents, Green Space Connections is creating a practical design and resources guide for non-profit organizations and resident leaders to navigate the process of bringing open space projects to their communities. 

  1. Phase I
  2. Phase II
Green Space Project Umbrella 2
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Green Space Connections is creating a new resource that will outline the design standards, basic requirements, and funding mechanisms for open space projects across all of NYCHA’s communities. The NYCHA Open Space Toolkit will be simple and effective: targeted to resident leaders, non-profits, and philanthropic institutions. 

Launched in 2022, Green Space Connections is a three-year initiative led by the Public Housing Community Fund in collaboration with NYCHA’s Asset & Capital Management Division, and managed by The Design Trust for Public Space. The project is leveraging the Connected Communities' participatory design process to create and activate green space at four NYCHA public housing developments, selected due to their documented high need in health indicators as well as climate vulnerability.

We know the benefits of accessible green space on health and community wellness. This project has further demonstrated how NYCHA communities have an unprecedented opportunity to realize self-directed open space improvements.

In response, Green Space Connections is creating a practical design guide for resident leaders and non-profit leaders. This resource will categorize common open space improvement needs at NYCHA and identify contextual standards for success. Ultimately, the toolkit will leverage the growing access to financial resources and the ability for public-private partnerships to deliver these improvements with greater efficacy, greatly expanding and expediting the scale of these projects across the city.

As a result, nearly 1 in 17 New Yorkers who live in public housing will have a chance to benefit from high quality open space. Activating NYCHA open spaces builds stronger community connections between NYCHA campuses and the city’s public sidewalks and streets, parks, institutions, retail and transit. Creating strong resident networks empowers communities to continue to advocate for public housing improvements, beyond these initial sites.

Project Goals:

1: Collating knowledge of NYCHA’s past open space plans, design guidelines, public art installation guidelines, and contract requirements in one simplified deliverable. The toolkit can be printed for distribution and live online to allow updates and case study additions as more projects are completed.

2: Problem solving through storytelling by sharing tools and resources with resident leaders, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Highlighting how the built environment shapes our wellbeing and affects health outcomes will make these projects more impactful.

3: Aligning open space needs to better serve more residents. Projects should not take place in a vacuum, understanding the bigger (and smaller) picture of how open spaces are connected, can be beautified with public art, and used will help create more resilient communities.

Key Milestones

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Call for Project Fellows

January 2024

Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the Public Housing Community Fund and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), will award two Design Trust Fellowships for the creation of the Green Space Connections toolkit in Planning & Policy and Communications Design.

Center for Justice Innovation, GSC Outreach

Create Toolkit

March 2024

Project Fellows will research and collate knowledge of NYCHA’s past open space plans, public art installation, design guidelines and contract requirements in one simplified deliverable. This work includes:

  • Interviewing stakeholders of Green Space Connections project to understand potential best practices for Connected Communities participatory design process
  • Scan national policy and design requirements of public housing authorities
  • Designing a toolkit that can be used by a variety of stakeholders including resident leaders, non-profit organizations, and philanthropic partners to understand costs and processes associated with common open space upgrades and art installation and restoration.

Release Final Publication

September 2024

Green Space Connections will release the toolkit and host a launch event, celebrating publication and highlighting successful interventions.