November 19, 2020

Visualizations by MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab analyze issues that are central to New Yorkers.

New York, NY, November 19, 2020 AIA New York (AIANY) and the Center for Architecture, in collaboration with MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab (CDDL), have launched the second and final phase of Visualize NYC 2021, a project that aims to explore, through data visualizations, issues in our city that the organizations believe will be central in the local 2021 elections.

The next 12 months may be some of the most momentous in New York City’s history, with a confluence of events—including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and an election with the potential to reshape the political landscape—creating major opportunities for change. The November 2021 local election will lead to unprecedented turnover in city government: in addition to the mayor, 40 elected officials will reach term limits, including four borough presidents and up to 35 City Council members. In response to this singular opportunity for change, AIANY has partnered with CDDL on a two-part data visualization project exploring four themes that are of critical importance to New Yorkers: the Evolving Public Realm, Climate Change and Resilience, Right to Housing, and Public Health.

Visualize NYC 2021 is a vital project to advance AIANY’s expanding advocacy and civic engagement initiatives,” said AIANY and Center for Architecture Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA. “On the heels of pivotal federal elections, we hope this tool will help New Yorkers turn their attention to the intersection of design and urbanism in local policy issues essential to our 2021 municipal elections. We intend for this platform to become a framework for the examination of topics germane to future elections.”

For Phase 1, CDDL developed a microsite featuring 16 prompts and questions from experts in the design, policy, and environmental fields. The public is invited to share their vision for New York City, becoming part of a collective, interactive visualization of New Yorkers’ wants, needs, concerns, and dreams for the city.

For Phase 2 of the project, launching today, the four themes are explored through explanatory texts by The Real Deal’s Amy Plitt, with city-wide data visualizations created by CDDL that dive deep into specific issues that are impacting NYC: how the pandemic has shifted street activity (Evolving Public Realm), heat vulnerability in the city (Climate Change and Resilience), rent burden in the city (Right to Housing), and the interaction of demographic, socioeconomic, environmental, and health factors (Public Health). This work is complemented by six additional visualizations by MIT students, which help demonstrate the power of data in helping the New Yorkers make informed decisions about the fate of their city. CDDL also explores the upcoming elections through a visualization that breaks down what seats will be open in 2021 and another that analyzes what issues the New York City Council has focused on since 2013, based on article mentions in The New York Times.

Visualize NYC 2021 is an initiative of AIANY 2020 President Kim Yao’s presidential theme, Charting NYC 2020, which invites members of the design community to reflect as the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close. “This year’s events have made the challenges facing all cities, and New York City in particular, more urgent,” said Yao. “Visualize NYC 2021 makes tangible the inequities that are manifest in our built environment. As we reimagine the future of New York City, we can use this data to help us design a healthier, greener and more equitable and resilient city.”

“Visualize NYC 2021 allows New Yorkers to explore and expose inequities in our city, from lack of access to public space to affordable housing,” said CDDL Director Sarah Williams. “New Yorkers will use the data visualizations to find their own insights and hopefully use that evidence to tell New York City’s new leaders what they want for our future city.”

CDDL Researchers: Sarah Williams (Director), Laura Kim (Project Manager), Eunsu Kim (Project Manager), Yu Jing Chen, Amy Fang, Adam P. Janicki, Prabhakar Kafle, Esther Kim, Sarah Littlefield, Ashley Louie, Shi Tang, Melissa Teng
CDDL Student Work: Barbara Alonso Cabrero, Patricia Ann Cafferky, Akshay Choudhary, Angelica Marie Door, Wei-Ching Lin, Sarah Littlefield, Jingyi Liu, Amber Youngeun Kim, Esther Kim, Laura Kim, Jordan Victor Owen, Tanvi Sharma, Shi Tang
Text: Amy Plitt, Editor, The Real Deal
Graphic Design: MTWTF
Phase 1 Web Development: Accurat
Phase 2 Web Development: KUDOS Design Collaboratory™
Center for Architecture and AIANY Staff: Meghan Edwards; Berit Lavender; Jesse Lazar; Suzanne Mecs, Hon. AIANY; Katie Mullen; Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA; Adam Roberts; Camila Schaulsohn


Several related events have been pivotal in setting up this discussions and will be made available via the Center for Architecture’s Vimeo account. Members of the press are invited to upcoming related programming.

Visualize NYC 2021: Expanding Public Realm
Tuesday, October 6, 8:30 – 9:30 am
With Justin Garrett Moore, Executive Director, New York City Public Design Commission; Kim Yao, AIA, Principal, Architecture Research Office

Visualize NYC 2021: Housing
Tuesday, October 13, 8:30 – 9:30 am
With Jessica Katz, Executive Director, Citizens Housing and Planning Council
Catherine Trapani, Executive Director, Homeless Services United

Visualize NYC 2021: Climate Change and Resilience
Tuesday, October 20, 8:30 – 9:30 am
With Richard C. Yancey, FAIA, LEED AP, founding Executive Director of the Building Energy Exchange (BE-Ex)

Visualize NYC 2021: Changing City
Tuesday, October 27, 8:30 – 9:30 am
With Purnima Kapur, Planning Consultant, Urbanist; Nicholas de Monchaux, Professor, Head of Architecture, MIT

Book Talk – Data Action: Using Data for Public Good
Thursday, November 19, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
With Sarah Williams, Author, Data Action: Using Data for Public Good; Director, MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab; Curator, Visualize NYC 2021

Behind the Data: Online Offline Mismatch
Tuesday, December 8, 8:30 – 9:30 am

Behind the Data: Reducing NYC’s Building Emissions
Friday, December 11, 8:30 – 9:30 am

Behind the Data: Healthy Food and Senior Amenity Access
Tuesday, December 15, 8:30 – 9:30 am

Behind the Data: Project Accessible NYC
Friday, December 18, 8:30 – 9:30 am


Thank you to the 2020 AIANY President’s Circle


1100 Architect, Andrew Berman Architect, FXCollaborative, Tillotson Design, International Lights, James McCullar Architecture, Langan, Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Perkins and Will, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, SHoP Architects, SPAN Architecture, STUDIOS Architecture, Thornton Tomasetti, W X Y architecture + urban design, Zetlin & De Chiara

Architecture Research Office, Arup Consulting Engineers, Dagher Engineering, Ennead Architects, Knoll, Inc., L&L Holding Company, Loring Consulting Engineers, LTL Architects, NYU Office of Strategic Planning & Development, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Alice Tisch

Bernheimer Architecture, BIG NYC, Capalino + Company, Cooper Carry, Inc., Desai Chia Architecture, Jeanne Giordano Ltd, Kohler Ronan Consulting Engineers, RPO Inc., Solomonoff Architecture Studio, Spacesmith, Studio Joseph, The Donaldson Organization, Threshold Acoustics, WORK Architecture Company, Henry Zachary, Carol Loewenson, FAIA, LEED AP, Hayes Slade, AIA, Burton L. Roslyn, FAIA, Michael Plottel, FAIA, LEED AP, Construction Specifications, Inc., Iva Kravitz, Assoc. AIA, Thomas R. Krizmanic, AIA, John B. Simoni, Esq., Eve Klein and Robert Owens

About the Center for Architecture
The Center for Architecture is the premier cultural venue for architecture and the built environment in New York City, informed by the complexity of the City’s urban fabric and in dialogue with the global community. The Center shares a home with the AIA New York Chapter and has the unique advantage of drawing upon the ideas and experiences of practicing architects to produce thought-provoking exhibitions, informative public programs, and quality design education experiences for K-12 students. It also leads New York City’s annual month-long architecture and design festival, Archtober. The Center for Architecture’s aim is to further public knowledge about New York City architecture and architects, foster exchange and collaboration among members of the design, development, building, scholarly, and policy sectors, and inspire new ideas about the role of design in communities by presenting contemporary and practical issues in architecture and urbanism to a general audience.