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Public Space for Culture 

February 21st, 2024
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Manny Cantor Center
197 East Broadway, New York, NY, USA

Ifeoma is a Nigerian American award winning artist, architect and planner transforming urban spaces into platforms for equity and design excellence. She is an Assistant Professor of Design & Sustainability at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. As the founding Principal of Creative Urban Alchemy LLC, she consults on equitable design, regenerative placemaking and sustainable development strategy for city governments and civic institutions internationally.

Kelly Vilar is the founder and CEO of the Staten Island Urban Center. She has invested her life’s work in helping people to hope, dream and take action in their lives. She has always been passionate about helping others to be socially and economically conscious, and to be activists in their own lives, thus living and sharing her mantra -- community development through community involvement. ​Over the years Kelly has worked closely with many organizations, such as UPROSE–an Environmental Justice organization, Cathedral St. John The Divine, NYS Youth Coalition, Ms. Foundation, National Latinas Caucus, AIDS & Adolescent Network of NY, Hispanic Corporate Achievers of Verizon, and NY Urban League to name a few.

Alexandra is an architectural and urban designer with a focus in public spaces. She has dedicated her career to urban design and placemaking projects at various scales that activate under-utilized spaces, and foster connections that are safe and welcoming to all. In addition to being the President and Co-Founder of Hive Public Space she serves as the Senior Urban Designer for both the Bryant Park Corporation and the 34th Street Partnership in Manhattan, NY. She believes in the power of public spaces and strives for her work to create memories and connections while evolving the impact and business of design. She received both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and holds a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University in New York.

Jenna is a queer-identified, mixed-race, transdisciplinary designer with over 15 years of professional experience in architectural and urban design, policy, and research. Co-Founder of East Harlem-based design firm RUEd’ ARCH, Jenna has designed and managed architectural projects and exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. Jenna authored Designing New York: Streetscapes for Wellness for the NYC Public Design Commission and has presented widely about centering local knowledge and advancing spatial justice in the public realm.

Join the Local Center for a conversation and workshop on creative engagement strategies for community-led design of public spaces with Ifeoma Ebo, Kelly Vilar, Alexa Gonzalez and Jenna Miller.

Local leaders in New York City neighborhoods are claiming public spaces for community and culture. But building coalitions, confronting challenging histories and developing shared visions for the future in neighborhoods that have faced decades of disinvestment is not always simple. Neighborhood leaders and designers must work in deep partnership to create enduring change.

We’ll hear from Local Center teams who are working to uplift neighborhood histories and cultures in public space, through an Afro-Caribbean Food + Spice Market in Tompkinsville, a Black History Corridor in Flatbush and much more. Then, attendees will connect with like-minded practitioners through a workshop on centering community visions for our parks, plazas and streets. 

How can designers, planners and organizers employ creative community engagement to cultivate joy and build power in public space?

Event Photos
Guest & Accessibility Policies

Urban Design Forum promotes conversations between invited civic leaders, designers, developers, and advocates. This event is open to Urban Design Forum Fellows, ANHD members and their invited guests. Fellows and members can RSVP to rsvp@urbandesignforum.org.

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals to engage fully.

  • The venue will have an entrance and elevators that are ADA-accessible.
  • This event will offer amplified sound.
  • If you’re not feeling well, please stay home. Face masks are encouraged, particularly if you have been recently exposed to colds, flus, or other illness. If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days, a high-quality, well-fitting face covering is required at all times.
  • Please refrain from wearing strong fragrances to accommodate guests with allergies or environmental sensitivities.
  • If you have additional needs, we will do our best to accommodate. Please contact rsvp@urbandesignforum.org.
About the Local Center

Urban Design Forum and the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) are partnering on the Local Center, a community design initiative to equip local leaders with the technical assistance, funding, and connections to re-envision and activate public spaces in their neighborhood. 


Our Local Center culture projects are made possible with lead support from the Mellon Foundation and with additional major support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund, and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation. To learn more about supporting this program, please contact Katherine Sacco, katherine@urbandesignforum.org

Image credit: Urban Design Forum; Sam Lahoz

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