Urban Experience Design

Our inaugural Forefront theme explores how new civic technologies are transforming the management and operations of the public realm.


Forefront is a program led by the Urban Design Forum dedicated to cultivating emerging leaders in urban design, development and policy. In monthly programs, participants will explore evolving technological advancements that aim to improve urban life. Forefront Fellows will confront questions such as: How can we use technology to create tangible improvements to the experience of the city? How can big data be applied to build a more dynamic, equitable, and resilient city? Can we build a Smart City without adopting top down or proprietary approaches?


On January 17 the Forefront Fellows met at the Sunview Luncheonette for a working session on the Fellowship final projects.
On February 21 six Forefront Fellows were invited to present individual projects on infrastructure and public space to their cohort and guest critic Miriam Roure, of Urban-X.
For the capstone of the Forefront Fellowship program, we visited Hudson Yards – the largest private real estate development project in the history of the US.
Our third Fellow spotlight session will feature five fellows working on projects impacting the city in a myriad of ways. While it is hard to find a common thread between the group, all in some way deal with the topics of civic technology, equity and public space.
Our fifth Forefront Urban Experience Design event explores how crowdfunding technology is changing the way we build our cities. The evening will bring together two very different civic projects made possible by equally different crowdfunding platforms.
The Lowline is a plan to use innovative solar technology to illuminate an historic trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of New York City. Join us for a tour of the Lowline Lab, a long-term open laboratory and technical exhibit designed to test and showcase how the Lowline will grow and sustain plants underground.
On September 20, five Forefront Fellows are invited to present individual projects on resiliency & sustainability to their cohort and guest critics Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim, co-founders of Terraform ONE.
Environmental sensors are touted as a panacea for identifying, measuring and solving pressing urban problems. Our Forefront Fellows will take a deep dive into the new Internet of Things frontier with key figures in two cutting edge companies, Jeff Maki from Intersection and Alexandre Winter from Placemeter.
Spotlight events invite Forefront Fellows working in similar areas to present current projects for reflection and feedback from their peers. Our first spotlight event will focus on Fellows working to create new forms of meaningful community engagement. As our invited guest critic, Urban Design Forum Fellow and new Executive Director of the NYC Public Commission Justin Garret Moore will moderate a discussion following the presentations.
Urban Experience Design, our very first Forefront program series, will explore how new civic technologies are transforming the management and operations of the public realm, and debate how big data might be applied to build a more dynamic, equitable and resilient city. The series will kick off with an examination of new spatial analysis tools, and how they enable citizen participation and government transparency.