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Smith Voices

With a site between the Lower East Side, Chinatown and the Financial District, an agora is formed at the heart of NYCHA Alfred E. Smith Houses to complement the existing repository and legacy of social and political activism in the community. It serves as an incubator space and public forum for residents and community members to share and gather ideas. It is a flexible structure with opportunity to accommodate small businesses and advocacy groups, which in turn constitute an intimate threshold that leads into the publicly accessible heart. Apart from the center space, each of the 12 Smith Houses’ towers manage their own pieces of the agora, contributing to the natural surveillance of the tower lobbies. These extensions of the agora can be used by community-led bodegas or house different activities chosen by the residents. By doing so, contributors can maintain a higher collective spirit and act as repositories of local knowledge. As well, ideas shared outside the agora will be collected by a network of posts spread throughout the Lower East Side, and transcribed into the agora. This system represents a ‘heart’ of the campus as we believe a heart could also be defined in other NYCHA communities to make voices heard.