Chapter Projects

Hurricane Sandy Neighborhood Assessment Project


Chapter Project located in New York United States

Responding To Hurricane Sandy

Since 1999, Architecture for Humanity has responded to nine major disasters throughout the world and has spearheaded reconstruction programs to support communities most in need. In this work, every disaster zone delivers a unique set of challenges. New York is a dense coastal city with a complex network of uniquely affected communities. It is also the first disaster zone that Architecture for Humanity has responded to where a local chapter was already established. As a result, the New York City chapter has played an integral role in Architecture for Humanity’s collective response, collaborating closely with the Reconstruction and Resiliency Studio based in the Architecture for Humanity Headquarters in San Francisco.

About The Project

After the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Chapter developed a project to establish meaningful local engagement, investigating each of the diverse communities that were affected in order to carefully direct our resources, especially the time and expertise of our volunteer network. We modeled The Neighborhood Assessment Project, the initial phase of our post-disaster recovery program, after Architecture for Humanity’s initial response in Biloxi, Mississippi. With careful consideration of past project tool kits, our project was adapted and expanded to address the unique characteristics of New York City’s coastal communities.

During the months after Sandy, field teams spent time in each neighborhood. Through field visits with community partners, they collected information and stories, focusing on the experiences of residents during and after the storm, the damage patterns, needs, and challenges that materialized. This data set helped our team to understand the strengths and capacity for rebuilding within each community. Through this process, the gaps in support that our chapter and Architecture for Humanity’s New York Regional Office could fill would become apparent and we could collectively create a series of effective, community-centric projects that would address the post-disaster conditions in the field.

The Report

This work has been published in a report, highlighting the situation and recovery process in each neighborhood we visited. The New York Chapter of Architecture for Humanity released this report on October 29, 2013, and it can be downloaded here. learn more…

Sustainable South Bronx: Office & Classroom Redesign & Installation


Chapter Project located in Bronx, New York United States

Sorry, a project description has not been provided. learn more…

Red Hook Vendors’ New Marketplace

Current Chapter Project located in Brooklyn United States The project for a “New Marketplace for Red Hook Park” offers a cost effective strategy that can be shaped to follow the needs of the Market. It recreates the idea of the Market by revising the use of the existing fences; fitting them with new uses that respond to the activities of the market and the park and transforming these otherwise barriers in elements of integration and connection.


The Red Hook Food Vendors have been selling authentic Latin American cuisine in Red Hook Park, Brooklyn since the mid 197o’s. In 2008, after a fierce battle with New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene they were awarded a six-year permit to continue this tradition, but due to health code restrictions they were required to serve from concession trailers parked along Bay Street at the northern edge of the park. While concession trailers provided a solution that allowed business to continue, the trailers were cost-prohibitive for some vendors and the trailers themselves detracted from the charm and appeal of the former open-air market environment.

In Fall 2008, the Red Hook Food Vendors Committee (RHFV) commissioned Architecture for Humanity New York to help solicit designs that would foster the creation of an open-air market place that would create a positive atmosphere for vendors and park-users, while reflecting Red Hook’s larger identity and history. Fostering the open discussion around the subject of re-imagining the Food Market, Architecture for Humanity launched the design competition “A New Marketplace for the Red Hook Park Vendors – An Open Call for Ideas”. In 2010 after continuous design discussions as part of the design process, exhibitions and public and institutional feedback, the Red Hook Food Vendors selected the project by Mateo Pinto and Carolina Cisneros (here displayed) as the winner design.

About The Project

The project revises the role of the fences in Red Hook Park, their meaning, their current use and potential new uses. Fences are in essence physical and symbolic barriers that demarcate or separate spaces. In the “New Marketplace for Red Hook Park” we rethink the existing fences as flexible links more than as barriers, as expandable frames generating a space for integration of the activities already present on the Market, giving a new meaning to this common urban element.

The project is comprised of three structures that range from soft(er) to hard(er) infrastructure to serve the market, the soccer field, and the park and neighborhood respectively:

Food Fence: A series of alterations designed for the fence surrounding the park to serve the market. These modifications and portable elements recapture the market’s expressiveness while minimizing its impact on the existing grounds. This fence is opened in rhythmic lengths and becomes the support for customizable add-ons such as tarps, countertops, lighting, trash cans, displays and flag supports.

Field Fence: A new fence following the elliptical path inside the park reinforces the geometry of the soccer field and its perception from afar. This fence embraces new elements like solar powered lights for the soccer field, canopies, seating, wind turbines and other sustainable features.

Multi-use Building: A new permanent two story building is placed on Halleck Street on the south side of the park recognizing its importance as a linking path of the Red Hook Recreational Area with the waterfront. This back bone of services – restrooms, storage, lockers, changing rooms and a trash and recycling center – takes place in reconditioned shipping containers equipped with solar panels and serviced by a vehicular accessible driveway behind it.

The main goal of the project is to develop strategies that reinforce the economic and cultural impact of the market and the value of the park as a public space at the heart of the neighborhood. Specifically with the “Food Fence” phase we explore the design of customizable and portable elements the recapture the market’s expressive nature while addressing variable temporal settings that minimize the impact on the existing grounds. As semi-permanent structures these new layers can be added or removed as the seasons, the neighborhood and the city change.

Further Applications Re-envisioning Public Space

Cultural exchange is an essential urban quality, inherently mobile; it is not always present in our understanding of public space. In many cases we treat or think of public spaces as fixed places and seem to oversee how public domain is most relevant to the temporary appropriation and use of a space. In order to comprehend the true nature of public space, we feel compelled to reinforce the ideas of mobility and exchange within a shared common space, to reconsider pre-existing structures as means, not only as ends.

Addressing the dynamics of public space at a small scale allows us to achieve further mobility and adaptability, which by multiplicity and association refer to the larger scale. In this sense we envision the “Food Fence” structure as a project within the project that has the supple ability to adjust to different contexts and contents. Studying and implementing standardized solutions can lay the grounds for other itinerant vending models beyond the Red Hook Food Vendors. Satellite operations generated by the mobility of itinerant vending contribute to the renewal of our constantly changing public space. Furthermore, progressions into larger scale can be established also by liaisons between itinerant vending and existing local initiatives in order to structure a reciprocal cooperative cycle.

Specifically, in the case of the Red Hook Food Vendors it could begin by synchronizing the vendors and the well-established local Community Farm. Some of the Farm’s products could be sold to the vendors, who could establish a composting center and work with that of the Community Farm to feed their plantings.

The Red Hook Food Vendors’ case is an opportunity to confront our understanding and use of public space, from the perspective of its spatial occupation shaping the city’s landscape as well as a socio-economic force for integration. We believe that a dialog between empirical approaches and city policies must be established in order to profit from this opportunity and give place to renewed civic activities.
Current Status and Next Steps

In Fall 2012 prototypes of simple elements and add-ons part of the “Food Fence” phase were made and tested with patrons. This basic kit can be customized to the needs of each vendor and offers: a low table, bar height countertop and trash bag ring. Funding will be sought for the construction of this very first phase during Spring 2013. Depending on funding resources additional elements will be incorporated into this construction phase to cover as much possible of the “Food Fence” structures, specifically the canopies and shade structures.

Construction process will be coordinated with the Vendors and part of the work is planned to be executed in a series of volunteer days by the beginning of the season.

Throughout the 2013 season efforts will be also geared towards advancing the design of the remaining aspects of the project while conversations with stake holders and city agencies continue towards the development of the more permanent parts of the project.


Fall 2008

Ideas competition launched: “A New Marketplace for the Red Hook Park Vendors – An Open Call for Ideas”. The Food Vendors and design professionals reviewed the entries and selected five as finalists to further develop their concepts in collaboration with Architecture for Humanity New York and the Red Hook Food Vendors.

Fall 2009

Developed design concepts are displayed at the Look North gallery in Dumbo, Brooklyn.


Design teams are asked to develop presentation materials including scale models for public display at an event organized by the Queens Museum of Art in Fall 2010. A public input system was installed beside each exhibited design, and a roundtable discussion was held with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), and other relevant stakeholders and experts to evaluate important considerations in each design. A subsequent review focused on community input, capital development requirements, city regulations, costs, and other questions that would inform the development of a successful design proposal.


Partnering with AFH as a physical sponsor, “A New Marketplace for Red Hook Park” by Mateo Pinto and Carolina Cisneros is awarded a NYSCA grant, devoted to design development in order to advance the project to seek funding for further design and construction.


“A New Marketplace for Red Hook Park” receives a Micro Grant and Seed Funding support from Architecture for Humanity New York Chapter for the construction of prototypes of some elements for the “Food Fence” phase of the project presented to the vendors and tested with patrons towards the end of the 2012 season.

Funding and media

This project has been made possible with support from New York City Council Member for District 38, Sara Gonzalez, and Congresswoman and Chair of the Small Business Committee, Nydia Velasquez.
Beyond the public exhibitions mentioned above, in February 20013 the printed version of Scapes 8 Journal from Parsons The New School for Design was released featuring the article referencing the project titled “Food Fence” by Carolina Cisneros and Mateo Pinto invited in 2010 to collaborate with this publication. learn more…

Under the BQE


Chapter Project located in Brooklyn United States

Under the BQE is a participatory community planning initiative by Architecture for Humanity New York (AFHny). The project resulted in the design of a neighborhood-scale pedestrian and traffic safety plan near downtown Brooklyn. In October 2012, it was announced that the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) would begin the process of formally researching and implementing many of the AFHny team’s proposals.

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) was started by the Regional Plan Association in the 1930s and completed by Robert Moses in 1964. The mixed legacy of the BQE is well understood by New Yorkers who live, work, and commute through its bifurcated neighborhoods daily.

In the Wallabout, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the BQE cuts an elevated swathe along Park Avenue from Navy to Steuben Streets. The 2010 census shows that over 37,000 residents live in the areas north and south of this zone. The perception of a visual and physical barrier of the BQE overpass is emphasized by neglected traffic circumstances on Park Avenue that unwittingly promote a speed corridor bypass, severing the neighborhood and challenging pedestrians, mass-transit customers, cyclists, and motorists alike. At the same time, the BQE provides covered parking as a year-round, all-weather amenity to the neighborhood.

In April 2010, AFHny began working with Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP), a non-profit local development corporation associated with the nearby Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District. MARP had already engaged in substantial efforts to study the area, initially for potential parking revenue and programming. MARP also hosted visioning workshops, facilitated by partners

SpaceBuster/raumlaborberlin (2009) and Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning (2010), to help the community conceptualize opportunities for the space under the BQE.

AFHny was invited to build upon the visioning workshops and help reconsider the BQE as a broader community asset in addition to covered parking. AFHny volunteers researched the neighborhood, conducted surveys and counts, collected case studies, and began a dialogue with like-minded organizations and experts. This process generated a volume of research and substantial expertise among the volunteers. From these studies, it was clear that before other improvements could be pursued, pedestrian and traffic safety were a priority.

In August of 2011, AFHny began the development of a safety plan for Park Avenue (a 17-block site), keeping in mind that interventions could be made in ways that achieved benefits across various needs (safety, social, economic, environmental). Incorporating feedback from multiple community charettes and other outreach efforts, the team identified areas of concern and generated conceptual proposals for streetscape design, parking and pedestrian zones, and green infrastructure to address these issues.
The proposals were eventually streamlined into a site-wide safety plan. This plan was presented to local stakeholders and the community board, and it was submitted to NYC DOT with a series of recommendations. On June 19, 2012, Community Board 2 Transportation and Public Safety Committee members voted unanimously to support the team’s conceptual safety plan for Park Avenue. Local elected officials soon followed suit. AFHny believes that these suggested improvements are crucial to restoring the north-south crossgrain of the district, strengthening communities along Park Avenue, and to making the BQE less of a liability and more of a true community asset. learn more…

The Homeless Shift Project


Chapter Project

located in Brooklyn United States

The Homeless Shift Project is a grassroots initiative to create a positive, measurable difference in the condition of homelessness in New York City and beyond. Like many rural and urban areas throughout the globe today, New York City experiences exponentially high rates of homelessness. This is especially exacerbated by the challenges posed by the current economic climate and the scarcity of affordable, healthful housing within the city.

In closely examining contemporary homelessness in New York City, as well as the diverse models of aid currently in place, it is evident that the provision of shelter in and of itself is not a sustainable solution. Rather, to provide realistic responses for ending homelessness, the contributing causes of the problem must also be addressed as a priority. This project was created as a community partnership that would examine how homelessness is approached within the local community and which would develop new, sustainable and replicable models of engaging homelessness and human needs.

This project began as a community partnership with a shelter that serves homeless women with a history of mental illness and substance abuse. Through giving their homeless clients access to sustainable, affordable housing, comprehensive health and social services, and opportunities for personal growth, this shelter is one of the highest-ranking shelters in New York City. However, the New York City Shelter System is greatly challenged by the rate of “recidivism,” which is defined as when someone is placed within housing but later returns to the shelter system.

Some of the barriers that are identified as linked to recidivism have included minimal to no skills for daily living, such as cooking or managing finances, and very negative experiences living with others. As a result, many women often turn down shared housing opportunities and wait for one where they can live on their own. Unfortunately, these opportunities are scarce in New York City. In order to address this challenge, many interventions have been adopted to promote and maintain wellness and Critical Time Intervention and Relapse Prevention as a case management model that identifies and utilizes various levels of support. Through this project, we have built upon these practices and identified how design advocacy can be incorporated to further strengthen these goals.

To target the barriers linked to recidivism, we developed an “apartment prototype” to be built within the existing shelter. The women will live in this space for +/- 3 months in small groups directly before moving out into their housing placement. The apartment will act as a teaching and learning space for the women to strengthen their skills for daily living and gain experience in effective, responsible problem solving in order to reduce the quantity and severity of setbacks or challenges they will face while living independently. The model apartment will also give the women the opportunity to see the positive aspects of living with another person and encourage them to take advantage of shared housing, both as an economically viable option and as an opportunity to develop an additional support network within their new home environment. Finally, the apartment seeks to reconnect the women with a sense of permanence and “home,” and provides them with a space in which they can learn to make adjustments to their immediate environment to create a space that matches and supports their goals for their new life beyond the shelter.

This “model apartment,” in addition to the pilot program to be built at a local shelter, is a replicable prototype designed to be easily modified to serve the diverse homeless populations throughout New York City (and beyond).

Links and Captions:
© Emily Sprague, © Shannon Beck, © Sara Bayer (as noted)
© WKSHP (renderings)
All Rights Reserved

Project Details:

Date(s): 2008 to present

Client: A local women’s shelter, Homeless populations of New York City and beyond

Concept/Lead Designer(s): Emily Sprague
Project Designer(s): Shannon Beck, Sara Bayer

Additional Consultants: Rigoberto Almaguer, Lisa Trub, Brooke Smith, Becky Labov, and other AFHny volunteers learn more…

Lenox Hill Community House Roof Garden


Chapter Project

located in New York City United States

Miles Crettien approached AFHny for help developing schematic design documents for a green roof at the 117 year old settlement in the Upper East Side. The Lenox Hill Neighborhood House now provides social services, education, legal services, housing, health food, wellness programs and mental health services as well as early childhood development. The green roof would be a part of the Health Foods and Wellness program which has four target goals:

  • Education
  • Menu Planning
  • Community Outreach
  • Connecting clients with local farmers.

While our main audience for the green roof would be the children in the program age groups 3 to 4 and 5 to 13, the roof would benefit the entire Lenox Hill community. The main goals of the green roof are:
Provide hands on education/development opportunities for Create dynamic space that inspires and transforms the way people look at food.

Bring together people in a beautiful space that makes them happy.

  • The vision:
  • Mixed use green space.
  • Extensive/intensive green roof and greenhouse.
  • Plant nursery and have year round classroom and growing in greenhouse.

We anticipate this project to take about 2 or 3 months to measure and draw the existing conditions, produce schematic design drawings and renderings. learn more…



Chapter Project

located in New York United States

The project we are proposing is called ARTfarm and as the name suggests, it derives inspiration from the Bronx Museum and the local farmers market. The site selected was a Step Street on 180 E 165th Street between Grand Concourse and Sheridan Avenue in Bronx. There is a weeded, run down area surrounding these steps. The site has multiple levels that allows us to transform this space into an interactive urban space for the local community. A farmers market is held every few days close to the site which gave us the idea of creating a green community space. The site is also close to the Bronx Museum which gave us the reason to make this space not only communal and green but artistically inclined. Our proposal included planters of varied sizes, shapes, colors and materials with perennials that last the season and longer. We have been working with found objects like cabinet doors and elliptical tubing materials to create these planters.
Other than that we have been trying to get the local community involved in the process of creating this communal space. With the help of the Bronx Museum, we participated in their family affair day where the children from the community painted planters. We plan on encouraging ownership of this space by asking neighboring households, bodegas, etc to adopt a planter in the site and look after its upkeep. The installation will sport a mix of community, culture and art. learn more…

to the New York Chapter.

Recent Comments

Design Fellow FFH Congo

by Oscar Niedermeyer
on April 5, 2012
to Vote for “Food Fence” in the GOOD Maker Challenge!!!

Hello NY-chapter,

I met some of you in the later part of last year.

I’m happy to report that I became Design Fellow for  Football for Hope Congo and I have already been living in Cape Town for 2 months, working here at the local AfH office before I’ll move to Congo in about 2 months.

All the best,

Oliver Kienzi

Project Status

by Jennifer Dunn
on February 1, 2012
to Under the BQE

Contact: Elisa Holland & Shan Jayakumar

Project Status

by Jennifer Dunn
on December 11, 2011
to ARTfarm

Also visit for more information.

Project Status

by Jennifer Dunn
on December 11, 2011
to Design DEYS

Contact: Ambika Roos & Sonya Cheng

Project Description

by Jennifer Dunn
on November 21, 2011
to The Homeless Shift Project

Status: Ongoing
Contact: Emily Sprague, Shannon Beck, Sara Bayer

Last Chance for Tickets to Tonight’s Wine Tasting!

by Jennifer Dunn
on September 1, 2011
to Wine Tasting & Food Pairing Fundraiser

There are still a few tickets left to tonight’s Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Fundraiser for Projects at the Moore Brothers Wine Company.  The tasting will begin at 6:30PM and will include a brief presentation about the current projects we have running. Tickets are $15.00 and you can pay using Paypal by emailing the address below.  Please RSVP as space is limited!

Moore Brothers Wine Company: 33 East 20th Street, 2nd Floor

TO RSVP email and receive the link to buy your ticket.

See you there!

REMINDER: Today at 6:30!

by Annie Ledbury
on July 12, 2011
to July Working Meeting : New Project Workshop

Stay out of the heat and join us today at 6:30 on the 6th floor of the Van Alen Institute (30 W 22nd St.) for our new projects workshop!  Connect with other volunteers, cultivate your humanitarian project ideas, and find out how to plug into grant opportunities to make your designs a reality.

Project Description

by Jennifer Dunn
on June 24, 2011
to High Bridge Redevelopment

Status: Closed

Project Status

by Jennifer Dunn
on June 24, 2011
to Park(ing) Day

Status: Closed

Project Status

by Jennifer Dunn
on June 24, 2011
to Broadway Community Inc.

Status: Closed

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