2019 / Polo Grounds Towers, NYC / Design Consultancy, Center forCourt Innovation

Team: Alaa Marrawi, Gabriel Vergara, Ramon Caba (Community Coordinator)

During the summer and fall of 2019, we carried out a series of workshops and meetings with residents of Polo Grounds, one of the NYCHA developments in Harlem. This design consultancy was developed in the framework of the Mayor's Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety in NYC.

Polo Grounds, like many other NYCHA complexes along with NYC, presents a series of safety issues. Underutilized open spaces, fenced areas, lack of maintenance, and the presence of trash in public spaces contribute to increasing feelings of insecurity, as well as decreasing the sense of belonging to the neighborhood. Polo Grounds Garden project seeks to train community stakeholders to envision, design, and implement interventions to improve public space and enhance public life. Its goal is to create a common ground that empowers neighbors through participation in the process of shaping their built environment.

Stakeholders identified four spaces to intervene under the concepts of Unity, Serenity, Aromatherapy, and Peace. Each intervention required to include flower gardens to fill the gardens with scents, remove fences to replace them with benches and planters, and program underutilized spaces to create gardens with public access to bring a sense of unity among community members from different generations. But also to provide community outdoor activities like cinema, family days and other public events.