Community Spaces Designed to Make an Impact

In partnership with Architectural Digest

By thoughtfully connecting people to place, these organizations prove that well-designed buildings enrich the communities they serve

When it comes to iconic examples of architecture and design, the first places that come to mind are often vaunted institutions, whether museums and performance centers, religious shrines, or high-level political buildings. Most people don’t often access these types of spaces often in their day-to-day lives. But such architecture can have a strong impact on humans’ well-being, owing to its availability of natural light, access to green space, and the use of natural materials.

We recently partnered with Architectural Digest to identify community-level organizations whose spaces were designed to bring the benefits of thoughtful architecture to residents in their everyday lives. These spaces embody the spirit of our “Do Well Better” campaign, which highlights the impact BNY Mellon clients make in their own communities. By improving access to well-designed spaces that foster connection, offer tranquility, and inspire growth, these organizations make a lasting impact on the communities they serve. Continue reading below to see how these three spaces, across three different cities and industries, are “doing well better” and benefiting their communities through architecture and design.

Repurposing Industrial Land to Encourage Movement

Fourth Ward

Atlanta, GA – Photography by The Sintoses with permission from Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Featuring New City's development Fourth Ward.

It’s not quite Los Angeles, but Atlanta is known for its traffic. A new project, Atlanta BeltLine, is tackling the city's gridlocked highways by turning unused industrial land into 22 miles of pathways around the city, and encouraging human-powered forms of travel. These trails will create new connections between Atlanta residents and their city.

“Over the long term, the BeltLine will provide people a place to walk, run, and roll with access to equitable transit, jobs, local businesses, affordable housing, arts and culture, and greenspace,” said Clyde Higgs, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO. “We want them to feel that they have options, and that the Atlanta BeltLine can take them there.”

As an under-parked city, the trail system improves access to free greenspace for the community of Atlanta while providing alternative ways to get around the city, which Higgs says is “reconnecting neighborhoods historically divided and marginalized by infrastructure.”

The trail system, which will also include a light rail once the project is complete, is not just an option for commuting. The BeltLine also exhibits free art along the trail, featuring artists from Atlanta and around the world, that take the form of murals, sculpture, pop-up style live performances, and more. The BeltLine is a powerful example of how architecture can sustainably reshape how people travel through their city, creating moments for deeper engagement through its unique design.

Designed for Getting Through Difficult Moments

Difficult Moments

Palo Alto, CA – Photography by Steve Babuljak and Stanford Children’s Health. Exterior of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. 

Hospital design is usually considered utilitarian, not inspiring. But Stanford Children’s Health built the new main building of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA to create an atmosphere that helps obstetric and pediatric patients through what is often the most difficult time in their lives.

“Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford cares for the sickest kids,” explained Jill Ann Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Strategic Space Planning and General Services at Stanford Children’s Health. “Many of our patients and their families are with us for a long time, and they’ve often traveled hundreds or thousands of miles for our world-class care. The hospital needs to meet the unique needs of these families.”

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital interior

Palo Alto, CA – Photography by Steve Babuljak and Stanford Children’s Health. Interior of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. 

Throughout the hospital, there are different ways for children and their parents to engage. Commissioned artworks that hang on the walls are designed to reflect the diverse backgrounds of the patients. Each floor of the building highlights a different part of California’s ecosystem, and each room has planters outside the window to offer a calming connection to nature. The building is also cutting-edge when it comes to technology and sustainability: It’s one of only two LEED Platinum-certified children’s hospitals in the United States.

“We want people to feel that Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is a place that enables both amazing accomplishments of medicine and incredible acts of kindness,” said Sullivan. “It’s a place for families to be together, feel safe, and know they will receive the best care. A place where children feel connected to nature and are provided diversions to take their mind off their treatment.”

Supporting Independent Living for Seniors

Exterior of The Frances Goldin Apartments

New York, NY – Photography by Dattner Architects. Exterior of The Frances Goldin Apartments. David Sundberg/Esto

New York City’s trendy Lower East Side has made room for lower-income seniors, thanks to a new affordable-housing building designed specifically for people 55 and over. The Frances Goldin Apartments—named for a lifelong LES resident and housing advocate—feature 100 one-bedroom apartments and a healthcare facility.

“The Goldin was designed to alter the perception of affordable senior housing,” explained Dattner Architects, the firm that brought the project to life. “The variety of senior-oriented cultural, social, and medical support programs present in the building, and the quality of design at The Goldin, allows residents to remain independent while also being a part of a community with supportive resources.”

exercise class

New York, NY – Photography by Dattner Architects. An exercise class hosted at Frances Goldin Apartments. ©2018 Ari Burling

Beyond the apartment units, a cafe on the first floor offers a youth job-training program, and the space hosts cultural events in the evening that bring the community together. An early-childcare center operates in the building, and a large roof terrace offers open-air greenspace for community members to gather.

“Our projects are designed to be site-specific and community responsive,” Dattner said. Dattner’s mission is to enrich civic space and the urban experience, to transform environments, and strengthen communities. Through their work, an Essex Street lot that sat vacant for decades is now providing a much-needed community for an essential group of New Yorkers.

These spaces show how design is a way of investing in a community and enriching the lives of the people each space serves. By investing in causes we care about and supporting our community, we can all “do well better”. Our “Do Well Better” campaign highlights our clients who are making a difference. Learn how our active approach to wealth management helps clients support their wealth goals and the causes closest to their hearts.

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