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How to Fill an Empty Urban Space

A community group in New York collects ideas for a space that once housed the BMW Guggenheim Lab

Courtesy First Street Green

The BMW Guggenheim Lab packed its Atelier Bow Wow-designed “toolbox” almost two months ago, leaving its spot in New York and whisking its urban intervention magic to Berlin. What’s left is an imprint of the vibrant ten-week marathon of cultural activity: the rectangular open space, sandwiched between two low-rise buildings, is paved and cleaned, vowing not to return to its former desolate, rat-infested state. Moreover, local volunteer group First Street Green is managing the space, turning it into a new community park and gleaning renovation ideas from locals.

The new park was inaugurated with an opening party this past weekend. First Street Green broke out the “visioning wall,” a wall of puzzled-together recycled materials inscribed by Lab participants with hopeful visions for the newly emptied space, and, together with the community, built a new "wishing wall" to continue mining ideas for the future of the Houston Street lot. In general, locals hope to see the space left open to the public and enriched with a community-sustained garden, with some ideas for continuing more pedagogical programming and maintaining an open space for innovation and creativity in the spirit of the Lab.

The park before BMW Guggenheim Lab stepped in. Photo courtesy First Street Green

Lede image courtesy of BMW Guggenheim Lab. This article originally appeared at, an Atlantic partner site.

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