October 7, 2020

Questions from 16 experts design, policy, and environmental communities consider how to envision a better New York City for all.


New York, NY, October 7, 2020 AIA New York (AIANY) and the Center for Architecture, in collaboration with MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab (CDDL), have launched the first phase of their Visualize NYC 2021 project, which aims to explore issues in our city through data 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. The November 2021 local election will lead to an unprecedented amount of 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. The number of open positions creates a singular opportunity for change in the five boroughs, and the incoming civic leaders will have the potential to remake the political landscape. In response to this, 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.

For Phase 1, CDDL has developed a microsite featuring 16 prompts and questions from experts in the design, policy, and environmental communities. 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. Questions and prompts range from the broad (“Home is where I….” – Katie Swenson) to the specific (“The design and operation of buildings contributes a majority of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions. We can make buildings part of our climate solution by…” – Richard Yancey), tackling the four themes at different scales and allowing New Yorkers to think broadly about the future of their city. Responses are sorted by theme, by zip code, and by common words, providing users with multiple ways of understanding the city’s collective voice.

Question and prompt contributors include:

  • David Burney, FAIA, Co-founder and Director, Urban Placemaking and Management, Pratt Institute School of Architecture
  • Susan Chin, FAIA, Hon. ASLA, Principal, DesignConnects
  • Ifeoma Ebo, Founding Director and Urban Designer, Creative Urban Alchemy
  • Mindy Fullilove, MD, LFAPA, Hon. AIA, Professor of Urban Policy and Health, The New School
  • Claudia Herasme, Urban Designer
  • Purnima Kapur, Planning Consultant, Urbanist
  • Jessica Katz, Executive Director, Citizens Housing and Planning Council
  • John Mandyck, Chief Executive Officer, Urban Green Council
  • Justin Garrett Moore, Executive Director, New York City Public Design Commission
  • Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Professor, Director, Graduate Landscape Architecture Program, The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York
  • Kate Orff, RLA, FASLA, Founding Principal, SCAPE
  • Katherine W. Swenson, Senior Principal, MASS Design Group
  • Catherine Trapani, Executive Director, Homeless Services United
  • Claire Weisz, FAIA, Founding Partner, WXY
  • Richard C. Yancey, FAIA, LEED AP, Founding Executive Director, Building Energy Exchange
  • Kim Yao, AIA, Principal, Architecture Research Office; 2020 President, AIA New York

For Phase 2 of the project, set to launch on November 16, 2020, the four themes will be explored through additional data visualizations created by CDDL, which dive deep into specific city issues that are at stake in the 2021 elections. This work is complemented by 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.

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 look back and reflect as the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close. “The historic NYC election of 2021 will follow an unprecedented year for New Yorkers—where pandemic, protest, and economic downturn are reshaping the ways we live and work,” said Kim Yao, AIA, 2020 President, AIA New York. “We look forward to hearing from everyone about their visions for the future of the city.”

“It’s hard to believe that close to 41 out of the 59 elected positions in New York City will be up for re-election in 2021,” said Sarah Williams, Director of MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab. “The data collected through Visualize NYC 2021 will give New Yorker’s a unique opportunity to tell those candidates the most important issues facing New Yorkers today.”

CDDL Team: Sarah Williams (Director) Laura Kim (Project Manager); Adam Janicki, Esther Kim, Eunsu Kim, Prabhakar Kafle, Shi Tang
Text: Amy Plitt
Graphic Design: MTWTF
Web Development: Accurat and Kudos


Members of the press are invited 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


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. www.centerforarchitecture.org