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For Immediate Release
July 21, 2010


Professional Artists and Designers from 39 States Have Registered To Enter the Competition

Winning Designs Will be Displayed at Construction Sites throughout New York City

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri and Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin today announced that more than 700 professional artists and designers from 39 states across the country have registered to participate in the urbancanvas Design Competition. This innovative contest is designed to beautify temporary protective structures throughout New York City with creative and compelling public art on or over City-owned property and encourage their maintenance to enhance public safety. Of the 718 registrants, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York State are the top five states represented, but other artists and designers - from Alabama to Minnesota to Utah - also have applied to compete in this one-of-a-kind competition. The competition's registration period has ended, and design proposals must be submitted no later than 3:30 p.m. on July 28, 2010.

Supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, the competition challenges participants to create designs for construction fences, sidewalk sheds, supported scaffolds and cocoon systems, which are used to protect New Yorkers during construction. In a dense urban environment such as New York City with a high volume of construction, temporary protective structures are installed at thousands of buildings and storefronts as a safety measure during construction operations. But these structures obstruct the City's streetscapes and can become an eyesore to residents and pedestrians.

"This competition will change the way millions of New Yorkers view their streets and their buildings, and from the incredible number of responses we have received, it is clear that many are excited to shape that view," said Commissioner LiMandri. "This concept has inspired artists from around the country to lend their creative talent to the City's construction sites, and we are thrilled to team up with them. Each day, we work with members of the construction industry to improve the safety of their job sites, and by working with artists, we hope to improve the beauty of these sites to enhance the quality of life in all of our neighborhoods."

"We are thrilled by the response to this competition," said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin. "It reaffirms the extraordinary interest generated by New York City's public art opportunities and in making a meaningful impact on our quality of life."

"The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled by the overwhelming response to the urbancanvas Design Competition, with its innovative and unique way to improve the City's urban landscape and support the work of artists," said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin. "The Rockefeller Foundation has long seen the importance of engaging the design and arts community when we think about how we best grow, expand, and build our City into the future while simultaneously maintaining its beauty and creativity."

As part of the competition, participants must develop individual designs for each temporary protective structure that are compatible in a variety of possible combinations and that represent a cohesive artistic vision. Submissions must include designs that can stand alone or be displayed together on combinations of temporary protective structures at the same location. Submissions will be judged on artistic merit, creativity and originality, as well as flexibility to adapt to various temporary protective structures, sizes, configurations and locations. The winning designs will reflect an understanding of New York City's diverse population and complement multiple streetscapes within residential, commercial and industrial areas.

A jury of world-renowned artists, designers and civic decision makers has been selected to evaluate the urbancanvas Design Competition submissions. The Jury includes: Polly Apfelbaum, artist ; Dan Brodsky, Senior Partner of the Brodsky Organization and of the Real Estate Board of New York; Ignacio Ciocchini, IDSA, Director of Design and Streetscape Development, Bryant Park Corporation; Carl Galioto, FAIA, Senior Principal, HOK and of the New York Building Congress; Sagi Haviv, Partner, Chermayeff & Geismar; Jennifer McGregor, Director of Arts & Senior Curator, Wave Hill; Eddie Torres, Associate Director, the Rockefeller Foundation; NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri; and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. The Public Design Commission of the City of New York will be represented by Paula Scher, a Principal at Pentagram Design, who will serve in an advisory capacity. Susanna Sirefman of Dovetail Design Strategists is the competition advisor overseeing the development and management of the competition.

The urbancanvas Design Competition Jury will recommend six to eight proposals to the Design Commission for review. Upon approval by the Design Commission, the finalists' designs will be featured on for a public vote. Up to four winning designs will each be awarded $7,500, courtesy of the Rockefeller Foundation grant to the Mayor's Fund. The Mayor's Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting innovative public-private partnerships such as urbancanvas.

Under a pilot program conducted by the Department of Buildings, property owners, contractors and businesses will have the opportunity to select one of the winning designs to feature on a temporary protective structure located on or over City-owned property. At sites with an eligible scaffold, property owners have the option to place a pictorial rendering of the exterior of the project being built in lieu of art. Winning designs installed on temporary protective structures can include the name of one art sponsor displayed in accordance with the pilot program specifications. The Department will conduct this pilot program under New York City Charter Section 645(b)(2)(g) which allows the Commissioner "to permit in specific cases experimental or demonstration construction not in compliance with the building code." The NYC Construction Codes currently prohibit, with limited exceptions, the posting of any material on temporary protective structures.

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Jennifer Gilbert (Buildings) (212) 566-3473
                    Malia Simonds/Danai Pointer (Cultural Affairs) (212) 513-9322