Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Neighborhood Activation Study

As part of their Neighborhood Activation study, Studio Gang’s vision for the Brownsville Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library aimed to create a strong node of civic activity and a vehicle for economic opportunity by connecting a broad range of institutions and programs.

New York

Completed 2017

Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New York



As part of the City of New York’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety, Studio Gang examined how the design process and its tools can help cities improve safety and well-being in neighborhoods.

The Neighborhood Activation Study was developed by Studio Gang in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the New York City Police Department, and the NYC Department of Design and Construction. It offers guiding principles, methods, and specific urban design and architecture recommendations related to crime prevention in two New York City neighborhoods: Brownsville in Brooklyn and Morrisania in the Bronx.

The work reflects understanding gained from engagement with neighborhood residents, community-based organizations, businesses, public agencies, criminal justice experts, mental health specialists, and many others with knowledge, know-how, and local lived experience. This engagement was complemented by a broad review of relevant literature, studies, plans, and precedents; extensive site investigation and inquiry; in-depth data collection and analysis; and concept design.

One critical aspect reflected in the work was that for changes in the built environment to help effect positive shifts in neighborhood safety and well-being, city agencies and departments must work not only in solidarity with people who have high stakes in the outcome – local residents – but with one another in a cross-departmental and coordinated way that makes their delivery of services and capital improvements more holistic and impactful. Relatedly, designers working on the relationship between the built environment and public safety must contemplate and try to address the range of conditions and forces affecting neighborhood well-being, taking an expansive view to understand context and apply an asset-based approach in their design efforts.

The Study’s recommendations touch police stations, parks, libraries, streets, transit stations, and other parts of the built environment. The specific design concepts respond directly to particular places and the dialogue and collaboration with people who live and work there, therefore most useful in the context from which they were derived. The iterative and reflective process documented in the Study, however, is meant to be useful as a set of principles and methods for other cities to use as a means to leverage design and capital investments as a strategy to reduce violence and improve quality of life at the neighborhood scale.



Urban Omnibus — "Design Around the Edges"

Our client Ifoema Ebo, strategist in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), is interviewed about Studio Gang’s Neighborhood Activation Study that was developed for the neighborhoods of Brownsville and Morrisania, NY.