July 21, 2021
Residents of the Lillian Wald Houses and community members on the Lower East Side have been working towards taking down the fence and building a vibrant public space in their NYCHA development. In Phase I and II, we led a participatory design process to envision the future public space and fundraised to make it happen.
The pandemic may have slowed some things down, but most of all, it showed us how vital public spaces are for communities who don't have access to parks and open spaces. That's why we are excited to move into Phase III of Opening the Edge! We'll be bringing the Community Design Team's vision to life in the construction phase of the project.
Opening the Edge is a project of the Design Trust, in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA); proposed by Artist Jane Greengold to create a new public space in an underutilized grassy area of Lillian Wald Houses on the Lower East Side.
Through the first phase of the project (2016-18), Design Trust and its fellows brought together a group of Wald residents, known as the Community Design Team (CDT), to discuss how they would like to use the site, provide guidance on local issues and maintenance concerns and develop initial design concepts for the prototype. Together, they designed an accessible and welcoming public space located between 3rd and 4th streets on Avenue D.
In phase II (2018-2020), the project team reconvened the CDT to incorporate public art ideas into the design. A resident Art Fellow joined the team and with the CDT, we began discussions around programming and stewardship of the space. In June 2019, we received our first ever capital funding award of $680,000 from Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council Member Carlina Rivera, and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs to build the open space. A year later we received additional capital funding from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Now in the final phase of the project, we're going to build the finalized design and build capacity to support a resident-led friends group to program and steward the space into the future.