Activating Long Island City-East

“Engage, Educate, Act!” is a creative platemaking platform conceptualized by NYDesigns to train students to become active curators and stewards of unacknowledged community assists in the corner of Long Island City bordering Sunnyside, Queens, home to both LaGuardia Community College and NYDesigns.


“Engage, Educate, Act!” is a creative placemaking platform concept that NYDesigns developed in partnership with DSGN AGNC in 2013-14 as part of a fundraising campaign. The project proposed to train students to become active curators and stewards of unacknowledged community assets. LIC East, a trapezoid bounded by four heavily trafficked thoroughfares, has a large daytime population: around 80,000 LaGuardia students as well as workers at major employers such as NYC’s Department of Design and Construction. The absence of a residential base has resulted in neglected advocacy for the area’s potential. The lack of green and community spaces transcends inconvenience; it constrains LaGuardia’s mission to provide an inclusive environment for academic achievement.


If implemented, “Engage, Educate, Act!” would unfold in three phases: A community festival would launch the project. Through food, fun, and games, it would engage in a collective mapping of the area’s significances. This data would be collected and visualized on a website. In the second phase, this information would be used to design a class to be offered within LaGuardia’s Social Sciences department. The semester-long class of 30 students in two cohorts would develop guided “walks” of the area across four categories: “Industrial Heritage,” “Hidden Ecologies,” “Architectural Traces,” and “Found Art.” These classes would focus on identification, mapping, fabrication of on-site elements, documentation, and presentation and would prepare students to act as tour guides. In the third phase, students would lead 120 tours targeting LaGuardia’s students and neighboring workers. An additional 60 tours would be offered to local middle and high school students.


Placemaking is a priority for LIC East because its lack of a meaningful identity disadvantages its users. This is expressed in shuttered storefronts, pedestrian confusion and insecurity, underused streets, and other symptoms common to neglected districts. These circumstances are unacceptable. LaGuardia’s students, many of whom come from underserved communities, deserve an academic environment that offers all the benefits of thriving urbanism.


Thriving communities begin as cohesive ones, and shared purpose stems from a shared vision. The distinct human, economic, and spatial characteristics of LIC East will be leveraged for creative placemaking goals. Through events, education, student commitment, and the transmission of ideas via student tours, the proposed project was intended to sketch an identity for LIC East that encouraged the further development of the area’s creative and economic activities. The proposal would foster connections between student and worker populations of varying income levels and backgrounds; encourage exploration of the area’s history; and attract new businesses to serve the existing population.


To join us in partnership to make this vision possible, please contact us directly at


Thank you to Quilian Riano and DSGN AGNC for the creative direction of the proposal.