New York, NY
In 2006, six city-owned buildings were sold to the cultural groups on the East Fourth Street for $1 each, ushering in a new chapter in the cultural history on the already vibrant arts block. Starr Whitehouse was selected by the Fourth Arts Block, a non-profit representing cultural groups, and the Cooper Square Committee, a tenants’ rights organization, to develop a streetscape design for East Fourth Street. The challenge of the streetscape design is to make the street even more of itself. In the case of East Fourth Street, this led to a design that fits the block as both a residential street and a cutting edge theater district.
To that end, we crafted a pre-design process to understand what East Fourth Street means to the people that use it and to develop identity concepts to enrich the transformation of the block. Starr Whitehouse ran focus groups, conducted surveys, and supervised mapping. We took these ideas and observations back to the community for a workshop, where we began to articulate the block identity with design ideas. The Master Plan that emerged from this process incorporates new building and theater lighting, cultural event signage, traffic calming and planting to articulate a distinctive, community-based identity for the block. The plan has leveraged public, grant and private support to initiate its recommendations.