Trust by Design Campaign 2020–2020

Trust by Design was a virtual fundraising campaign geared towards introspective dialogue on the future of NYC's public space. Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Design Trust for Public Space, the campaign brought together experts from the Private and Public sector, active network of Design Trust Fellows and Partners in a campaign for healthy, equitable, and resilient shared spaces in our city.

  1. Phase I
A campaign for NYC's public space
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Trust by Design: A Campaign for NYC’s Public Space (TxD) was a 3-month virtual fundraising initiative geared towards introspective dialogue on the future of NYC's public space. Coinciding with the Design Trust’s 25th anniversary, the campaign spotlighted the importance of public space in New York City and envisioned its future by advancing conversations across sectors. 

In Summer 2020, the Design Trust for Public Space launched the TxD initiative to raise awareness for the role of public space in creating a healthy, equitable, and resilient city as it adapts to the post-COVID environment. The campaigned envisioned the future of public space by advancing new conversations across sectors and civic and municipal agencies. The initiative convened leaders of the public space movement through a range of digital programs, and blog posts by past fellows investigating the far-reaching impact of shared, civic spaces.  

TxD programs advanced a number of key goals in support of public space:

1) awareness of public space as a driver of health and racial equity,

2) equal access to quality public space, and 

3) public space in service to long-term recovery and resilience.

The digital program included: 


This series of digital events convened leaders from NYC and beyond to hold conversations around topics ranging from the role of public space as a driver of a healthy, equitable, and resilient NYC, climate adaptation for waterfront communities, and how NYC can imagine creative approaches to new public spaces. These events were moderated by Design Trust for Public Space's Executive Director, Matthew Clarke. 

July 29, 2020 | Public Space Keynote | Watch Here.  
As the Keynote Conversation for Trust by Design, this discussion brought together leaders from a range of sectors to consider what public space will look like over the next 25 years in America. With a focus on how parks and public commons can function as community tools, participants explore how we can build civic spaces with racial, financial, and social equity as the leading precepts to create a more just society.
  • Kate Orff, Founder and Principle of SCAPE

  • Mitchell Silver, Commissioner of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

  • Chantel Rush, Kresge Foundation

August 12, 2020 | Public Space Forum: Health and NYCHA | Watch Here.
New York City agency leaders interrogate the role of public space as a driver of a healthy, equitable, and resilient NYC and imagine actionable steps towards that goal. The conversation focuses on how design can shape life outcomes, how the built environment is inextricably connected to health and racial equity, and how their past projects have launched these conversations in the public realm.
  • Dr. Torian Easterling, Deputy Commissioner of the Health Department and the Director of the Center for Health Equity & Community
  • Eva Trimble, Executive Vice President for Strategy and Innovation at the NYC Housing Authority

August 20, 2020 | Public Space Forum: HPD, Planning and Design | Watch Here.
In this Public Space Forum, New York City agency leaders convened for a timely discussion on climate adaptation planning for waterfront communities and how NYC can imagine neighborhood plans that are equitable and resilient. Panelists explore some of the most daunting challenges of our time, such as rising tides and increased extreme weather brought on by a rapidly changing climate, and how the city can utilize multi-benefit public space plans to address them.
  • Justin Garrett Moore, Executive Director of Public Design Commission
  • Leila Bozorg, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Neighborhood Strategies, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development
  • Erick Gregory, Deputy Director of Design, NYC Department of Planning

September 3, 2020 | Public Space Forum: Transportation and SBS | Watch Here. 
In the final Public Space Forum, New York City agency leaders as they discussed the city’s creative approaches to new public space, such as the recently launched “Open Streets” program (including how businesses are utilizing it and what it means for the future of streets). The conversation also explores the Business Improvement Districts (BID) in NYC as important community organizations.
  • Jonnel Doris, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services 
  • Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation


Coinciding with Design Trust for Public Space's 25th anniversary, we're sharing five exciting stories about how current and past Design Trust projects have acted as a catalyst for change across the five boroughs. 

Five Borough Farm (2009) offered a roadmap to farmers and gardeners, City officials and stakeholders to understand and weigh the benefits of urban agriculture, and make a compelling case for increasing resources—from soil and compost to growing space to funding—to grow urban agriculture throughout the five boroughs of New York City. View Here                   

Future Culture (2014) began as a partnership when Staten Island Arts with the Design Trust to create a replicable model of inclusive development using public art to link the cultural assets in Staten Island's North Shore neighborhoods. Two Future Culture pilot projects were launched in 2018 - an interactive sculpture series, Sonic Gates, and a free concert series, Court Yard Fridays. The projects allowed residents to explore how public spaces could create a more connected and engaged North Shore. View Here.View Here 

In 2013, Design Trust for Public Space partnered with the NYC Department of Transportation on the Under the Elevated project, to transform neglected public space under the city's elevated bridges, highways, subway and rail lines, into valuable community assets. With community-led design, the Design Trust, DOT, and RISE piloted a new model of public space at Beach 60th Street under the A train, creating a new amenity and growing neighborhood leadership. View Here    

Time Square (2003-2004) For this project the Design Trust held a series of intensive workshops that explored a range of possible improvements to the streets, sidewalks, and public spaces in Times Square to make the "crossroads of the world" more pedestrian-friendly. The workshops' findings were synthesized into a pedestrian-mobility plan, "Problems & Possibilities" that guided the transformation of Times Square from a congested and poorly designed public space into a pedestrian-friendly streetscape. View Here

Brooklyn Public Library (1996) was led by co-founders Andrea Woodner and Claire Weisz and was Design Trust for Public Space's inaugural project. The project focused on creating design guidelines to transform Brooklyn's historic libraries. The project paired the Brooklyn Public Library, and the then newly-formed Department of Design and Construction to develop recommendations to promote design excellence in renovation, restoration, and new construction projects. View Here.


As part of the Trust by Design campaign, Design Trust Board Members conducted a series of conversations about the intersection of public space and cities. Participants included Setha Lowe, Adam Gopnik, Todd Palmer, Sloan Leo, Mari Nakano, and Sue Donoghue. 

View Here.

Trust by Design is about sparking a dialogue between the public and thought leaders on why public space is fundamental to building and sustaining communities that are safe, inclusive, and dynamic

Matthew Clarke, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space

Key Milestones

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Trust by Design: A Campaign for NYC’s Public Space

The Design Trust for Public Space announces the launch of a new, three-month initiative dedicated to raising awareness for the role of public space in creating a healthy, equitable, and resilient city