UPDATE: Extended Deadline - Submit your Statement of Interest by Friday May 28th at 5pm!

In New York City, an individual living in the South Bronx has a life expectancy of 69.5 years; a resident of the Upper East Side has a life expectancy of 89.5 years, 20 years longer. Where we live matters, and where we live is too often governed by exclusion, racism, and discrimination. 

Public health officials and medical professionals have known that a person's zip code is a better predictor of one's health rather than genetics or lifestyle choices. Only 20% of health outcomes depend on access to and quality of medical care. 80% of health outcomes depend on our physical environment - the world and people around us shape our wellbeing. While access to hospitals is important, communities with access to parks, transportation, well-resourced schools, adequate housing are more likely to be healthy.

This is a call to action for urban planning, design, and public policy professionals and all those involved in shaping the physical environments in which we live, work and play. This cycle, the Design Trust is looking for projects that shape New York shared spaces and environment in ways that can make us healthier.  

Download the RFP in English

Download the RFP in Español

Download the RFP in 中国人

The Design Trust encourages applicants to consider... 

  • How can public spaces support healthy lives?

  • How can our streets and sidewalks be reimagined to help our communities thrive?

  • How can neighborhood design improve mental health? 

  • How can we reduce the environmental injustices affecting marginalized communities?

  • How can we frame climate resiliency as an urgent health crisis in our neighborhoods?

  • How do we reckon with systemic racism present in urban planning and policy in order to build more just communities?

  • How can we use art, culture, and heritage to lift up all definitions of wellbeing?

About the Restorative City

The Design Trust for Public Space unlocks the potential of New York City’s shared, civic spaces through the advancement of new research and collaborative projects. Every three years, the Design Trust launches a request for proposal (RFP), which solicits ideas to realize projects that address a key public space concern in New York City. Organized around a central theme, each RFP cycle is grounded by extensive community outreach and engagement, ensuring an alignment with community needs and interests. Over the course of its 25-year history, the Design Trust has completed 32 projects across the five boroughs, impacting thousands of New Yorkers.

This cycle, the Design Trust RFP—The Restorative City—is dedicated to exploring how public space and the built environment can be used as a tool to advance health equity, a concept which means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Using our unique problem-seeking, and power-sharing model of project delivery, The Restorative City will support projects that seek to influence public policy, design practice, or development decisions and bring about powerful, city-wide changes and address the following key goals:. 

  • Demonstrate the impact of the built environment and design on public health

  • Elevate health equity as a priority for public policy and design

  • Empower communities, especially those that have been historically disenfranchised by public policy, to become active participants in this process

We invite New York City community groups, non-profits, design firms, advocates, activists, public agencies, and individuals across the five boroughs to submit proposals for research, design, and planning projects to unlock the potential of NYC’s shared spaces in ways that can improve health outcomes for everyone, but especially for communities who have been historically marginalized or under resourced.

Projects may be site-specific but must have the potential to change the way we develop and manage public space citywide and or influence the way we practice design. An independent jury will choose between two to four proposals to become Design Trust projects.

How to Apply:

Step 1 - Statement of Interest

Please complete your statement of interest by Friday May 28, 2021 by 5pm. Information about the SOI can be found here

Step 2 - Full Proposal

The Design Trust will notify groups that have been selected to submit full proposals by email and will provide more detailed information about what needs to be included in that proposal at that time. The full proposal will include a project abstract, project description, budget and resource information, a schedule, and letters of support. 

The Design Trust will offer “office hours” to all applicants invited to submit full proposals This time will be used to help guide applicants on preparing their proposal. 

Step 3 - Proposal Review and Jury Selection

The Design Trust board and staff will review all full proposals and select a group of finalists that meet the selection criteria. Finalists will be presented to an independent multidisciplinary jury for selection. Information on the jurors will be made available on our website. Prospective partners will be asked to make a brief presentation of their proposal to the jury. 

Step 4 - Project Launch

After the projects are selected, the Design Trust will work with partners to determine the expertise that is required to successfully complete the project and will advertise and award fellowships as appropriate and allowable within the budget. The Design Trust will work with the partner to create a realistic schedule and budget. 

The Design Trust staff act as project managers, coordinating the team to produce the highest quality deliverable, while adhering to budget and schedule. We are also substantially involved in defining and contributing to project content in a collaborative way. We draw on our familiarity with the operations of the City government and our experience in engaging multiple stakeholders to facilitate innovative yet feasible solutions. The Design Trust coordinates project-related programs and production of deliverables and supports ongoing advocacy and public awareness of selected projects. 


Proposals must address issues raised in the RFP (The Restorative City: Building Community Wellness through Public Space) and relate to the design or use of public space in New York City. Projects may be proposed by:

  • Individuals, contingent upon the partnership of a related community group or public agency stakeholder. A letter of support from the stakeholder must be submitted with the full (second round) proposal. 

  • Non-profit public advocacy or community groups that are based in or provide services in New York City.

  • City, state, or federal agencies concerned with New York City design policy, implementation, or review.

Project Requirements

We are looking for projects that examine the ways in which we plan, design, and build the public realm. Specifically, we are looking for ideas that center the improved health and well-being of individuals and communities in our city. If invited, full project proposals should outline how targeted expertise and the project results could affect policy, programming, or design decision-making. Projects situated at the early stages of planning, with strong community support and/or city involvement, will receive preference. Although Design Trust efforts may eventually lead to built work, projects should, first and foremost, demonstrate broad policy or programming goals, not an end in itself, and create impact by:

  • Changing the system

  • Producing a replicable model

  • Creating a catalyst

  • Building a constituency

Design Trust projects culminate in the dissemination of ideas that are intended to influence design or public policy. Typical deliverables include publications, prototypes, conferences or seminars, and websites or videos. 

Key Dates

April 21st


May 3, May 7, May 14

Restorative City Information Workshops

Updated - May 28

Statement of interest due

May 25th

The Restorative City: In Conversation 


Workshops and office hours to develop full proposals for selected applicants

July 17th 

Full proposals due

August 2021

10 finalists announced

August 2021

Jury selection process and announcement of 2 - 3 selected projects