Hundreds of single- and two-family homes in Sheepshead Bay were damaged by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy; three years later, most have not fully recovered. In 2013, in response to the urgent need for rebuilding and a lack of community representation and organization in the area, Pratt Center partnered with Gans Studio to work with residents of the Sheepshead Bay court houses to develop an integrated approach to rebuilding post-Sandy that includes housing, landscape, and infrastructure. This remains an ongoing effort to bring residents together to increase their community's climate resiliency. More information on the Sheepshead Bay project can be found here.View full PDF
In 2013, Joan Byron, Pratt Center’s Director of Policy, gave the keynote presentation at Transportation of Tomorrow, a panel discussion organized in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and hosted by online publication City & State. Transit is the lifeblood that makes New York’s density and vitality possible. But too many neighborhoods and workplaces are transit-starved, leaving workers with long commutes, young people cut off from education and opportunity, and seniors struggling to access healthcare and services. You can review Joan's address in our report "Mobility and Equity for New York's Transit-Starved Neighborhoods: The Case for Full-Featured Bus Rapid Transit".View full PDF
“Amplify Action: Sustainability through the Arts” was a hallmark exhibition co-organized by the Pratt Center and presented at the Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn in 2012. Over 20 local and international artists contributed work to the exhibit, aimed at promoting dialog around sustainable living and the environment. Through artists panel discussions and educator workshops, which offered tools for connecting the exhibition to classroom curriculums, Amplify Action demonstrated how arts, culture, and media can be powerful catalysts for social change. Click here to view the works.
Pratt Center has always been committed to supporting local businesses. In partnership with the NYC Department of Small Business Services and the Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association, Pratt Center created the Nostrand Avenue Business Directory to promote businesses on Nostrand Ave in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Flatbush.View full PDF
Pratt Center has long been committed to supporting and preserving local manufacturing, a position that was further strengthened when we merged with NYIRN (another featured "thing" in our curated series). A strong local manufacturing sector encourages entrepreneurship and innovation and creates employment opportunities for New York’s extraordinarily diverse workforce, the backbone of this city's character and soul. We launched Made In NYC in 2011 to help connect local manufacturing businesses with retail and commercial customers, provide technical and sourcing assistance, and enhance their visibility in the marketplace. The stickers and other swag help identify products and companies active in our network. Visit Made in NYC's dedicated site here and don't forget to watch the videos.
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation’s (CHLDC) Project Verde was an initiative to re-envision a greener, more sustainable future for Cypress Hills and East New York. Pratt Center provided extensive planning, research, and technical assistance to CHLDC in the development of a Green Master Plan in 2011 – a comprehensive local strategy to develop and integrate affordable housing, community facilities, economic development, food, health & wellness, open space, streetscape improvements, transportation, waste & sanitation, and youth development resources. The 2011 Verde Summit was a crucial platform for collecting information from residents and other stakeholders in developing the Green Master Plan. Click here to view our summary of the summit's major findings.
The Retrofit Block by Block initiative in Bedford-Stuyvesant was designed to create a model for increasing the scale and speed of energy-efficiency retrofits at the neighborhood level and to generate job opportunities in the retrofit sector for local workers. The community-based outreach approach takes advantage of neighborhood networks, urban density, and NYC's common and redundant housing types to streamline and scale home retrofit upgrades. Retrofit Block by Block germinated our much lauded Retrofit Standardization Initiative, which focuses on greening small homes in Brooklyn. Get the full story on our Retrofit Standardization Initiative here.View full PDF
This announcement in the New York Times was published in 2010 by the Rockefeller Foundation to congratulate the 2010 grantees of the Cultural Innovation Fund (CIF). CIF was designed to leverage work in arts and culture to promote social innovation. Pratt Center was awarded a CIF grant in order to integrate the arts into our ongoing Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiatives. We’re proud to have partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation many times in our 50 years and look forward to many more partnerships in the future.View full PDF
In 2010, we were awarded MASterworks Award by The Municipal Art Society of New York, for our Concrete Plant Park as Neighborhood Catalyst. The new South Bronx park was formerly the site of a concrete batch mix plant until its closure in 1987. After persistent organizing by Bronx community groups, the site was eventually transformed into a section of the Bronx River Greenway, which includes bicycle and pedestrian routes and a canoe/kayak access point to the Bronx River Corridor. The park was one outcome of our advocacy campaign to replace of the Sheridan Expressway with affordable housing and green open space. More information on the Sheridan Expressway transformation and successes can be found here.
The New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN) merged with Pratt Center in 2010. As part of the negotations, Pratt Center was gifted Adam Friedman, the founding director of NYIRN and the current Executive Director of Pratt Center.
Pratt Center was among the founding members of NYIRN in 1997. Ron Shiffman, Pratt Center's first director, served as its chair. NYIRN provided services to more then 2,000 NYC-based industrial companies and helped retain tens of thousands of jobs. Its research and advocacy led to the creation of New York City's Industrial Business Zones and the growth of a green manufacturing sector in New York. The impacts of these successes influence Pratt Center's work to this day.
The Green Agenda for Jackson Heights was an environmental sustainability plan drafted up by Jackson Heights, Queens residents to address their ecological, economic, and social concerns. From November to March 2010, Pratt Center helped facilitate a community visioning process, bringing together over 400 Jackson Heights residents to imagine and set in motion scenarios for a more ecologically sustainable and socially inclusive neighborhood. Read our recommendations here.View full PDF
In 2009, Adam Friedman joined us at Pratt Center. Beforehand, Adam was the founding executive director of the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN), where he led efforts to strengthen the city's manufacturing sector and promote sustainable development. He also served as executive director of the Garment Industry Development Corporation, and as the director of economic development for Borough Presidents David Dinkins and Ruth Messinger. He has taught urban planning courses at Pratt Institute and Columbia University, and is one of New York City's leading advocates in support of manufacturing and the employment opportunities it brings. We have reached many milestones under the guidance and leadership of Adam, and look forward to many more.
This blueprint for economic development is the product of four years of collaboration by civic leaders, neighborhood advocates, community development organizations, labor unions, local development corporations, environmentalists, and others to make economic development work for all New Yorkers. The blueprint was an ambitious new vision for economicView full PDF
Over our fifty year history, Pratt Center has had the pleasure of participating in radio segments for WNYC. We're grateful for each and every opportunity WNYC affords us for promoting the community development work that we do! In the lead up to the 2013 mayoral election, our director Adam Friedman was invited onto The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss how rezonings under Mayor Bloomberg impacted manufacturing."Over 20 million square feet of industrial space has been rezoned to accommodate residential development over the past 6 years, Adam explains in the interview, "Everyone talks about green collar jobs. If we're going to have green collar jobs, we have to have a place to put them." Our work today continues to focus on developing tools and policies that strike a balance between the city's needs for housing and jobs.
In 2008, the Pratt Center received an Environmental Quality Award from the Environmental Protection Agency for our efforts to protect the environment and green the South Bronx. We are proud of our commitment to the environment and we continue to support community-based solutions to environmental issues.
Whereas: on the occasion of New York Industrial Retention Network's 10th Anniversary in 2007; and
Whereas: NYIRN was founded to to promote a diverse economy that can provide economic opportunities for all New Yorkers; and
Whereas: our work at strengthening NYC's manufacturing sector was recognized as a valuable community service; now, therefore
Be it known: NYIRN is honored to have received this proclamation from the New York City Council.
In 2006, Pratt Center for Community Development was presented with the Spirit of Justice Award from the Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. We are honored to have received this award from our longtime partner in the Bronx, and continue to guide our work with a commitment to social justice and community organizations.
In 2006, Pratt Center released a highlights brochure to encourage community members to get involved with our various programs, and to make them aware of our successes. You may have noticed that many of these programs are similar to what we're advocating today! While our specific projects have changed over the years, our ideals and attentions have stayed rooted in our efforts to promote affordable housing development and green space, and our commitment to transit equity and neighborhood economic development. To read the full brochure, please click below!View full PDF
In 2005, we changed our name from the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED) to the Pratt Center for Community Development, or simply Pratt Center. We believe the change clarifies our mission and values, and plus, it's much easier to say and remember!
"Can Growth Work for New York's Communities?" was a day-long conference, hosted by both Pratt Institute and Pratt Center in 2005. It brought together experts, practitioners and advocates from around the city to participate in panel discussions and breakout sessions focusing on economic justice, affordable housing, and environmental justice. This event highlights our long standing commitment to our core values of equity, sustainability, local knowledge, and diverse economy.View full PDF
Beginning in 2004, the Pratt Center, in partnership with the Department of Youth and Community Development, hosted a series of organizational development and leadership trainings for community based organizations. Over the years the Pratt Center has trained hundreds of leaders of community-based organizations in the design and development of housing and community economic development skills. We are proud to be a resources for many Community Based Organizations focusing on a wide variety of issues throughout New York City.
Listening to the City was a community forum held in 2002, to create an open dialog focused on rebuilding lower Manhattan and "Ground Zero" after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. Listening to the City brought over 4,500 community members from all across the city together for a historic redevelopment process. The forum was able engage a diverse audience, and is an example of the type of participatory process that Pratt Center is committed to. We are proud of our involvement in the project.View full PDF
The Brooklyn Housing Summit was a one day conference held 2002, created by Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President at the time, in conjunction with the Pratt Center and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The summit explored options for the borough to expand its affordable housing offerings, many of which are still in effect today. Housing continues to be a major concern in New York City, and we are dedicated to ensuring New Yorkers have access to safe an affordable housing options.View full PDF
Pratt Planning and Architecture Collaborative (PPAC), a division of PICCED (remember, this was our name before!), transformed a vacant storefront next to the Prospect Park Subway station into a cooperative daycare center. The Maple Street Child Care Center now operates as a preschool cooperative, but maintains many of the sustainable design elements originally installed by us. The project received an Honorable Mention from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce at their “Building Brooklyn Awards 2002” reception.
View full PDF
In the early 2000s, Pratt Center for Community Development launched its first website. We advertised the website and our offerings on printed fliers. Our internet presence has matured considerably since then to say the least.
Since 2000, Pratt Center has used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, or mapping, as a tool for planning and analysis. We have offered these skills and experience to other community-based organizations throughout the city, as well as utilized them in our own projects and reports. Our most recent GIS project, the Neighborhood Data Portal, visualizes various census data throughout New York City's five boroughs.View full PDF
In 2000, PICCED’s Beyond Brownfields conference brought together government and nonprofit community development practitioners from Europe, Canada, Cuba and the Northeastern U.S. During the 2-day conference, they shared innovative, equitable approaches for urban brownfield redevelopment and collaboratively envisioned their implementation in New York City. Over the years, Pratt Center has become a leading technical assistance provider to community-based organizations under New York State’s Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) program. Our work has sought to empower local organizations in the South Bronx, Cypress Hills, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill-Wallabout and Gowanus to secure funding and plan for the sustainable redevelopment of their communities. Read more about our brownfield work here.View full PDF
Pushing back against the dominant narrative of industrial decline, NYIRN published the “Little Manufacturer that Could” report in 1999 to present NYC’s manufacturing sector as strong and poised for growth, and to celebrate the true NYC resiliency of manufacturers intent on investing in their equipment and buildings despite their own negative assessments of the future. The report envisioned innovative policy tools that could make NYC companies more competitive and encourage the redevelopment of industrial space, goals to which Pratt Center remains deeply committed.View full PDF
NYIRN’s Zoning for Jobs campaign raised awareness of the important role blue-collar jobs play in the economy and promoted new tools and strategies which protect and promote growth in local manufacturing. Stories of New York companies feature prominently in the campaign materials and help ground the policy proposals in the real life situations of local manufacturers. The tools presented in this campaign remain core components of Pratt Center’s industrial policy platform today.View full PDF
Since 1989, dozens of communities have taken advantage of the New York City charter’s Section 197-a provision allowing for the creation of community-based plans in response to neighborhood need and vision. Community Board 1 in Brooklyn enlisted Pratt Center to provide technical assistance in the creation of the Greenpoint 197-a plan. By 1998, after a decade of research, activism and engagement with community residents and businesses, the final draft of the plan shown below was released for public review, and eventually, adopted by the City Council in 2002. Pratt Center has also assisted with 197-a plans in Red Hook (1996), Williamsburg (2002), Manhattan CB9 (2007) and most recently, Sunset Park (2009).
This mission and history document highlights Pratt Center's portfolio of projects from 1996, at around the 30 year mark in our history. Training and education, policy and advocacy, and of course, technical service provision are the main areas of focus. Some of our longest-running partnerships with community groups feature prominently in the projects spotlighted: we assisted Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation with building a playground for youth in East New York, worked with St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation (now Saint Nicks Alliance) to develop special needs housing in Williamsburg, and helped launch a multi-site child care program with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.View full PDF
This yearbook from 1994 features the 22 graduates of our Pratt community economic development internship program. Many of the graduates of our program have used their careers, whether in planning, policy, design or advocacy, to build a more equitable and sustainable city. We’ll name just a few:
In the 1980s we expanded our community-driven architectural practice, and provided technical assistance to numerous CDCs to build and preserve affordable housing in low- and moderate-income communities. From 1989 through 2003, under the leadership of Joan Byron, the Pratt Center facilitated the design and construction of over 2,000 units of affordable housing.
Since receiving funding from the federal Higher Education Act in 1965, Pratt Center has pioneered innovative educational approaches for growing the capacity of grassroots organizations. By 1991, our community economic development internship combined with other leadership programs had grown to account for 30% of our annual budget. This included funding for over 40 internships and fellowships for community leaders and graduate students.View full PDF
Pratt Center was founded on the notion that revitalizing communities must include investments in the social and economic fabric of communities, not merely the physical. Marking our 25th anniversary, the Uprooting Poverty through Community Development conference was structured for small, interdisciplinary groups of participants to develop workable community economic development strategies over the course of three days. This working conference serves as a healthy reminder that even while we celebrate our accomplishments, there is much more to be done.
"True community development is not simply the process of rebuilding the physical infrastructure of our neighborhoods. It is, fundamentally, about social and economic justice; and it builds, not upon bricks and mortar, but upon the vision, energy and aspirations of people who live and work in these neighborhoods. This commitment and vision is often overshadowed by the litany of problems that have become symptomatic of urban poverty. The urge to attack these symptoms diverts us, as a society, from investing the necessary public and private resources in the human foundation upon which genuine and lasting social, economic an physical revitalization must be based." - Ron ShiffmanView full PDF
25 years after its founding, Pratt Center had become a recognized leader in the Community Design Center movement, which sought put architectural resources to work for underserved communities. This Crit article below, published in 1988 by the The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), dubbed Pratt Center among the "alternative architectural vanguard," a label we're happy to have earned.View full PDF
This 1988 feature in the New York Times celebrates Pratt Institute's leadership and commitment to university-based community service. As urban renewal programs across the country had uprooted and destroyed many low-income neighborhoods, Pratt's approach was praised for its blend of hard-nosed pragmatism and community empowerment. Leveraging the skills of urban practitioners in architecture, design, planning and advocacy on behalf of local community groups, Pratt was unique in it's focus on long-term, holistic community-based development. "We look at how to build the capacity of community organizations to carry on after we leave," states Pratt Center director Ron Shiffman.View full PDF
In 1988, Joan Byron joined the Pratt Center for Community Development. Over the next 15 years, Joan directed the Pratt Center’s nonprofit architectural practice in the design and construction of over 2,000 units of affordable housing, as well as community health, child care, and cultural facilities. As our policy guru, Joan was a pivotal player in the Bronx River Alliance’s work to restore the Bronx River and build an 8-mile greenway along its banks as well as the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance's campaign to replace the Sheridan Expressway with affordable housing and open space. In Fall of 2015, after 26 years of service with Pratt Center, Joan stepped away from her policy role at Pratt Center to direct the newly-formed Neighborhoods First Fund for Community-bBased Planning.
In the 1980's, with more than 200,000 families waiting for public housing, Pratt Center advocated for a variety of community-based strategies to address the city's shortage of low-income housing, one of which was the formation of mutual housing associations. This New York Times article tells how residents of 25 abandoned homes in East New York became homeowners after forming a mutual housing association. Pratt Center helped broker the agreement with the city, which transferred ownership of 58 buildings to the association, and provided financing for the technical and architectural services needed to rehabilitate the buildings, in exchange for restricted rights of resale. This new model for affordable homeownership was seen as a promising prototype for other neighborhoods in the city like Harlem which had large amounts of publicly owned real estate.View full PDF
In 1984, in partnership with the Development Training Institute, Pratt Center launched the Pratt Community Economic Development internship to train senior managers in the non-profit, community development field. This brochure outlines the program's schedule (6 weeks of workshops over one year) and curriculum, with content ranging from accounting and law to real estate development to organizational development.View full PDF
In the midst of a severe shortage of affordable housing in the City, Pratt Center in 1983 introduced a set of cutting edge land use and housing policy proposals. Among the recommendations, the adoption of Inclusionary Zoning (requiring developers to make provision for affordable housing in their plans), represented a fundamental change in housing and development policy in the City…a way to harness the engine of economic recovery to benefit all New Yorkers. The authors framed the report as the first steps in a very long journey, and indeed, 32 years later, a Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning policy has only just begun making its way through public review.View full PDF
This 1983 feature in Architectural Record names Pratt Center "the oldest, one of the largest, and possibly the most influential community design center in the country" and "one of the few CDCs in the country to receive substantial ongoing support from private foundations, banks, and local sand state government sources."View full PDF
For five years in the 1970s, Pratt Center published Street: A Magazine of the Urban Environment, a semiannual publication during the golden age of the community development movement. The magazine provided practical tools, critical analysis, and visionary ideas to the local organizations and community leaders working to reclaim abandoned housing, clean up destitute streets, and create open space in some of the city's most neglected neighborhoods. “The idea was: What if we look at neighborhoods in a positive way?” remembers Ron Shiffman, Pratt Center's inaugural director.View full PDF
This history from the Fall '74 issue of STREET documents Pratt Center's first decade of pioneering community development work in New York City, noting our focus on "providing communities with tools to fight their own battles more successfully, augmented by the technical expertise of staff, students and faculty members." We've added another four decades to our story, and it's because of the generous, unwavering support of our partners, like those original seed grants from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, that our purpose remains unchanged.View full PDF
Pratt Center’s Ownership Transfer Project, developed in collaboration with Community Service Society, helped low-income tenants in abandoned or poorly maintained buildings form housing cooperatives, and renovate their buildings using long-term, low interest loans. In the first five years of the project, Pratt Center’s architecture team assisted in the development of low-income cooperatives in about 40 buildings with over 750 units throughout NYC.
The Pratt Planning Papers were a series of publications on progressive urban planning put out by the Pratt Department of City Planning in the 1960s and ’70s. Pratt Center compiled this issue, which featured two articles by Senator Robert F. Kennedy on the importance of community planning and urban renewal in light of the country’s accelerating urban blight and poverty challenges. It reflects on the community development movement in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, providing an early look at the innovative community programs and initiatives that partially grew out of the recommendations in Pratt Center’s first report two years earlier.View full PDF
In the early 90’s, with support from the Ford Foundation, Pratt Center initiated an Oral History Project in an effort to educate the broader public on the history, philosophy, achievements and challenges of the community development movement. The project, which documented the work of 19 Community Development Corporations from inception to present, has become an invaluable outreach and training resource for the community development field, and culminated in the production of a documentary, Building Hope, which first aired on PBS in 1994.
The Courts of Sheepshead Bay
Transportation of Tomorrow
Nostrand Avenue Business Directory
Made in NYC
Retrofit Block by Block
The Cultural Innovation Fund
NYIRN + Pratt Center Merge
A Green Agenda for Jackson Heights
Adam Friedman Joins the Pratt Center
One City One Future
Taking to the Airwaves
Environmental Quality Award
2006 Highlights Brochure
Pratt Center Name Change
Can Growth Work?
Listening to the City
Brooklyn Housing Summit
Maple Street Child Care Center
Our First Website
Brownfield Developers Unite
The Little Manufacturer that Could (NYIRN)
Zoning for Jobs (NYIRN)
A community-based plan for Greenpoint
Mission and History
Oral History Project Booklet
1994 Interns: Where are they now?
Architects for Affordability
Ramping Up Capacity Building
Uprooting Poverty (Booklet)
The Alternative Vanguard
A Legacy of Community Service
Joan Byron Joins Pratt Center
New Housing Solutions
A New Internship Program
Inclusionary Zoning for NYC
Keeping Up the Good Works
Street Issue 15
Looking Back on 10 Years
Tenant Owned Cooperatives
Pratt Planning Papers
CDC Oral History Project
Pratt Center's First Report