Advocates for excellence in the urban environment

We advocate for world-class streets and public spaces.

Streetscapes for Wellness is a cross-sector research initiative exploring how sidewalks and roadways can advance community wellness while enhancing mobility, social infrastructure, and environmental health.

Streetscapes make up more than a quarter of the land area within New York City, and they have proven to be a critical player in the well-being and quality of life of the neighborhoods they define and connect. At a moment when the public realm is being significantly altered to address issues of public health, security, and social, racial, and climate justice, our streets, sidewalks, and adjacent public spaces have emerged as critical spaces that promote physical and mental health, social cohesion, and community resilience. A surge of new uses—from outdoor dining and shopping to yoga, dancing, and more—are spurring fresh thinking about how sidewalks and roadways can advance community wellness while enhancing mobility, social infrastructure, and environmental health.

Working with the New York City Public Design Commission and the American Society of Landscape Architects New York Chapter, the Federation has embarked upon Designing New York: Streetscapes for Wellness, a research and publication initiative that will provide guiding principles for the quality design of public streetscapes and adjacent open spaces by synthesizing research and case studies to inspire better codes, policies, and design guidance for creating a better public realm—first in New York, and then scaled and interpreted to cities around the world. In late 2021, the initiative will culminate in the third publication in the Designing New York series, whose 2018 volume Designing New York: Quality Affordable Housing explored ways that affordable housing design can enhance the public realm and positively impact New Yorkers’ health, safety, and well-being.

Project Updates

Opportunity: Public Realm Research Associate

The Streetscapes project team is seeking a part-time Public Realm Research Associate. This individual will work closely with the American Society of Landscape Architects, New York Chapter, the Fine Arts Federation of New York, and the NYC Public Design Commission on the Streetscapes for Wellness initiative to collect research and case studies related to the future of streetscapes and the public realm, with a particular emphasis on new technologies, security, equity, and wellness in a post-pandemic world. Find more information here.

Zoom Conversation: Streetscapes for Wellness

On December 2, 2020, the Federation and the Public Design Commission hosted a cross-disciplinary conversation exploring how creative new uses of streets and public spaces can shape a more livable and equitable New York City. See a video recording of the program and find additional resources here.


Top Photo: “Tropical” Installation, Bronx, New York, 2020, by Dexter Ciprian & Felix Ciprian. Photograph by Cameron Blaylock / Courtesy Van Alen Institute.