[Another post from Sam on tour—explanation here.]

When we wrapped up the Storefront Library, we wanted to create another small-scale, public space centered on books and learning. To get started, we wiped the slate clean and tried to envision an institution from scratch, starting with the needs of urban residents and neighborhoods, not just existing service models like libraries and community centers. To sustain this train of thought, in our discussions we used a generic name “urban neighborhood institution (UNI)” as a kind of proxy. Pretty soon, the office was covered in folders and whiteboards with the acronym UNI, and, over time, the placeholder just stuck. In the end, we liked the way it sounded: small, approachable, like “mini university.”

Libraries, of course, are part of the Uni’s DNA. But just as important are history museums, historical societies, and local history efforts. To honor that “heritage,” I decided to visit the Chicago History Museum.

This summer in NYC, we’ll be attempting to bring to the street a bit of what these museums and cultural institutions offer behind their walls. If you are an NYC-based institution or programming organization interested in filling a cube, let’s partner!



We're getting a "new" name... Street Lab.

The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a nonprofit launched in 2006 in Boston, where we created community-oriented programs for public space. In 2011, we migrated Street Lab to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The Uni began as a single, portable reading room and has since grown into a city-wide initiative offering more than 700 days of pop-up programming in 150+ public spaces across the city. In 2019, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all this work together going forward, with much more to come.

For now, details about our programs are available here on the Uni Project web site. Soon, that content will move to www.streetlab.org. Thanks for sticking with us!