Lower East Side Girls Club; Lower East Side Girls Club;

Lower East Side Girls Club, New York

Building futures for young women on the Lower East Side

The Lower Eastside Girls Club (LESGC) was founded in 1996 to address the historic lack of services available to girls and young women in the Lower East Side. Today, LESGC is in late stages of a campus expansion for their Center for Community, and is training a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial and environmental leaders. As the Club looks to expand its activities and reach, Arup has been providing pro-bono acoustic and audiovisual consultancy for its new Center for Wellbeing and Happiness.

Project Summary


2000 NYC's homeless students come from the LES

3UN SDGS impacted, including Good Health and Wellbeing and Gender equality

A gateway to new experiences and opportunities

The Club’s existing Center for Community on New York’s Avenue D engages middle and high school girls and their families in arts, sciences, leadership and wellness activities. Arup is helping to provide LESGC with a new community-focused space that has a direct focus on health and wellness while allowing the Girls Club to broaden their outreach and positively impact their girls. Opening in 2021, the new center will add more than 5,000ft2 of extra space and will dramatically expand the experiences offered to the neighborhood’s young women and their communities.

Digital technology is at the heart of the new center. Partnering with architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), our acoustic and audiovisual consultants are designing state-of-the-art education and wellness spaces, and developing more immersive ways for the community to experience, experiment and learn from these additions. Crucially for Arup, the mission of LESGC and its Happiness and Wellbeing Center closely align with several UN Sustainable Development Goals. LESGC works to highlight the need to reduce inequality, expand gender equality and promote good health and wellbeing, mirroring the UN’s goals. We share those ambitions, which frequently inform our choice of the projects Arup supports.

The expansion project itself has offered opportunities for the girls to explore careers in technology. Visiting our design-stage sound simulation - SoundLab – has introduced girls from LESGC’s music production program to careers in acoustic and audiovisual design.

We are deeply grateful to SOM, as well as Arup and Jaros, Baum & Bolles for providing exceptional pro-bono design services that impeccably reflect our vision, ethos and objectives. Without their deep commitment to this project, this critical initiative would not be possible ” Ebonie Simpson Interim Co-Executive Director of the LESGC

Translating wellbeing and happiness into sound and vision

Wellbeing and happiness are multi-faceted, as are the spaces and resource of the new centre designed to promote them. The ‘Happiness Hall’ is a technologically-advanced public space for different generations in the community to meet through exhibits, film screenings, lectures and events. Community engagement also defines the expanded Sound Studio. It continues NYC’s tradition of street-front radio stations to engage with passers-by. Also part of the expansion, a ‘Mind and Body Center’ will use projection, a full-range audio system and cove lighting to create a dynamic venue for art therapy, movement, yoga and meditation classes.

Defining wellbeing and happiness in the built environment

Wellbeing and happiness are multi-faceted concepts. The spaces and resources in the new community space seek to encourage and reimagine these for the community they serve. The ‘Happiness Hall’ is a technologically advanced public space for different generations in the community to meet and commune through exhibits, film screenings, lectures and events. The Sound Studio’s extension is specifically positioned along the street to engage with passers-by, evoking the history of New York City’s street front radio stations. Another part of the expansion, a ‘Mind and Body Center’, will use projection, a full-range audio system and cove lighting to create a dynamic venue for art therapy, movement, yoga and meditation classes.

The future

The LESGC is working to break the cycle of poverty for the district’s young women. 40% the Lower East Side’s young people are classed as living in poverty. The LESGC is working to break the cycle of poverty for the district’s young women, and provide them with innovative, meaningful options for advancement. Arup is proud to assist them in their community-critical work.

Arup founder, Sir Ove Arup identified the importance of the humanitarian aspect of our work. This remains central to our ethos.

Find out more about our community engagement work