TALK Apr. 30: Social Resilience and Urban Design in the COVID-19 Era (Cooper Robertson)

In cities across the United States, the current pandemic has highlighted social inequities including disparities in access to open space, healthcare, and food. Can better urban design and planning help underserved communities become more resilient?

To explore this critical issue, the architecture and urban design firm Cooper Robertson will host noted design and public leaders in a public live-streamed talk, at 5:30pm EDT on Thursday, April 30th. The virtual event, “Social Resilience and Urban Design: NYC and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is free to access with registration.

According to Cooper Robertson designer Anjulie Palta, who is convening the talk, this group of experts including renowned landscape architect Signe Nielsen and New York community advocate Raymond Figueroa-Reyes, will address the impact of COVID-19 on the cities and neighborhoods where they are working, along with their own responses to its effects. They will also discuss the pandemic’s broader, long-term implications for how cities are planned and designed with respect to resource allocation, social safety, and health.

WHAT: Social Resilience and Urban Design: NYC and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Part III of Cooper Robertson Talk Series

WHO: Signe Nielsen, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
Raymond Figueroa-Reyes, New York City Community Garden Coalition
Eamon O’ Connor, Gehl (moderator)
Anjulie Palta, Cooper Robertson (convener / introductory remarks)

WHEN: Thursday, April 30, 2020, 5:30pm

REGISTER: Sign up for free at the link here.

“Public health and social resilience are emerging as key urban design and planning imperatives,” says Cooper Robertson’s Palta. “As cities respond to the current situation and prepare for the future, our goal is to stimulate dialogue and innovative ideas addressing important questions raised by the pandemic: What does a healthy and resilient neighborhood look like in terms of disaster preparedness as well as physical and emotional wellbeing, and how can you realize these concepts equitably in the built environment?”

Cooper Robertson’s Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, which provided important public gathering space for grassroots movements including Occupy Wall Street.

This live-streamed discussion is the third in the ongoing Cooper Robertson Talk Series, a succession of panel events focused on issues of diversity and inclusivity in the worlds of art museums, architectural education, and urban design.

Additional detail about the April 30th event follows below:

Designed by Cooper Robertson, Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden is an innovative teaching garden that sets a new precedent for how architects and urban designers can help communities address issues of access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables.

VIRTUAL PANEL: Social Resilience and Urban Design: NYC and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Part III of Cooper Robertson Talk Series

Though cities and urban environments have historically been the epicenter of infectious disease, most urban residents alive today have never had to contend with an outbreak of the current pandemic scale. Within a span of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pervasive urban and social issues in underserved neighborhoods across the United States, highlighting disparities in access to open and green space, healthcare, pharmacies, food, and critical equipment such as masks.

In responding to the current pandemic and looking to the future, what can planners, designers, and public officials learn about how to make neighborhoods and communities more resilient?

Convened and facilitated by leading urban design firm Cooper Robertson, this live-streamed talk explores how to better define and implement concepts of social resiliency and equitable access. A panel of preeminent designers, planners and public agency and community leaders will discuss what resiliency means in the context of COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic on the presenters’ own work, neighborhoods and cities, and future implications for how cities are designed and planned with respect to resource allocation, social safety and health. Specific topics of discussion include:

• What COVID-19 has taught us about how cities need to plan, build and design differently in the future

• What social resiliency means in the context of a pandemic and public health crisis

• Strategies for formalizing traditionally informal models of resiliency

• What neighborhoods and communities need in order to be “resilient,” and implications for locally-led, grassroots efforts

• How much influence disaster planning considerations should have in the future creation of urban environments

This virtual panel will offer an opportunity for participants to join in conversation with these experts and with their peers, sharing their experience of this seemingly unprecedented pandemic — with an eye towards illuminating better strategies for engaging communities in the pursuit of enhanced public service, and the creation of more equitable urban environments.


• Signe Nielsen, RLA, FASLA, founding principal, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects

• Raymond Figueroa-Reyes, president, New York City Community Garden Coalition

• Eamon O’ Connor, Gehl (moderator)

• Panelist TBD

• Anjulie Palta, designer, Cooper Robertson (convener / introductory remarks)

Registration here:

Thursday, April 30, 2020
5:30pm ET

About Cooper Robertson

Recognized internationally for its successes in making thriving places, the award-winning design firm Cooper Robertson integrates architecture and urban design at many scales, from buildings to parks to city districts. Founded in 1979, the firm is led by a core group of diverse and accomplished professionals. Acclaimed works by the firm include large-scale urban redevelopments, major cultural and educational buildings, waterfront resiliency plans, and exceptional residences and resorts. Visit