Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 306-09
July 1, 2009


Awards Celebrate Highest Design Standards for Public Projects

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Public Design Commission President James P. Stuckey today honored ten outstanding public projects at the Design Commission’s 27th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design. The Design Commission, formerly called the Art Commission, has awarded exceptional public projects since 1982. This year’s awards reflect the City’s movement towards sustainable design, epitomized by PlaNYC, the long-term vision for a greener, greater New York. The event, held at the New Museum, also included a special recognition award for the Staten Island Court Complex, which will be the first courthouse in the City to be certified by the Green Buildings Council.

“Public projects help define how New Yorkers relate to the City around them,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “In tough economic times, we all have to do more with less, but that doesn’t mean simple, elegant and timeless public design can’t flourish. These award-winning projects exemplify the ideals of high-quality public design, and prove that public projects can be at once cost-effective, sustainable and beautiful.”

“I am fortunate to work with an Administration that recognizes the impact that good design can have on our City,” said Design Commission President James P. Stuckey. “Many of tonight’s award-winning designs are the result of initiatives like Design and Construction Excellence, announced by the Mayor at these awards in 2004, and PlaNYC, that have set a new standard for public projects.”

The Design Commission is New York City’s design review agency. Established in 1898, the Commission reviews permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture proposed on or over City-owned property. Projects include new construction, renovation or restoration of buildings, such as museums and libraries; creation or rehabilitation of parks and playgrounds; installation of lighting and other streetscape elements; and design, installation and conservation of artwork. The Design Commission is composed of 11 members, who serve pro bono, and includes an architect, landscape architect, painter and sculptor as well as representatives of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library.

The winning projects are selected by the members of the Design Commission from the hundreds of submissions reviewed each year, and exemplify the highest design standards. The winners are:

Bronx River Greenway
Bronx River between Westchester Avenue and East 177th Street, Bronx
A Project of the Department of Parks & Recreation and the New York State Department of Transportation
New York State Department of Transportation In-House Design
WSP Sells
The RBA Group

Project Description: In its entirety, the Bronx River Greenway is a multi-use path for bicycling, skating, running and walking that parallels the entire 23 miles of the Bronx River from its source at the Kensico Dam in Westchester County to near its outlet at the East River in Hunts Point, Bronx.

This piece of the Greenway will connect three adjacent communities by two 173’-span and one 100’-span tied arch bridges with cable supported decks over the Bronx River and by one 87’-span truss bridge over Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. It will provide 1.3 miles of lighted multi-use path and over two miles of pedestrian paths; floating docks for canoe/kayak portage with access ramps; and an artificial turf field for soccer or softball, a basketball court, playgrounds, a dog run and picnic areas.

The drainage design utilizes environmental best-practices through the inclusion of rain gardens, infiltration basins and overland permeable swales. Also, an extensive array of native plants is incorporated to benefit both the ecology and park users.

EMS Station 3
501 Zerega Avenue, Bronx
A Project of the Department of Design and Construction and the Fire Department
Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects

Project Description: EMS Station 3 will be the first EMS station to implement the FDNY’s newly developed comprehensive EMS program, improving response capability by accommodating a larger number of vehicles, staff and support spaces. The two-story, 13,500-square-foot structure will house an apparatus floor with eight ambulances, a refueling bay, locker rooms and a training room as well as administrative support, a kitchen and storage space.

The station’s exterior is designed with careful consideration of the context, including a green roof as a fifth façade “fronting” the high-rise residential tower across the street. Rainwater harvesting is incorporated in the roof drainage design, and the collected water is stored in a cistern to be made available to the community gardeners in an effort to mitigate the relocation of the existing community garden to a smaller adjacent lot.

Sustainable goals include reducing storm water runoff through strategically located porous paving and captured storm water reuse, utilizing planning and material strategies for natural ventilation and daylighting, maximizing use of recycled materials and reducing energy use through efficient building systems and equipment.

Croton Water Treatment Plant
Mosholu Golf Course, Van Cortlandt Park, 3701 Jerome Avenue, Bronx
A Project of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Parks & Recreation
Ken Smith Landscape Architect
Great Ecology & Environments
Rana Creek

Project Description: To ensure the continued viability of the Croton, the city’s smallest and oldest water supply system, DEP is constructing a filtration plant beneath the driving range of the Mosholu Golf Course. The restored driving range, when completed, will be the largest continuous intensive green roof in North America.

The design also calls for a clubhouse facility; water features; and significant landscaping, utilizing native species and locally-sourced materials in order to replicate many habitats found throughout the Bronx.

The design is commensurate with the architectural legacy of the city’s historic water supply infrastructure and guided by three core concepts: the creative and artistic integration of buildings into the landscape; a sustainable approach to building design and landscape that emphasizes best practices for storm water management and water reuse; and the enhancement surrounding landscape for recreation and educational purposes. The above-ground facilities are designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center
1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn
A Project of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Parks & Recreation and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Project Description: The new visitor center for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be the centerpiece of the Garden’s Master Plan for its next 100 years of service, providing a clear point of arrival and orientation to provoke curiosity and interest in the world-class collection.

The center is conceived as an interface between garden and city, culture and cultivation. Nestled into an existing berm, the center is experienced as a continuation of the garden path system, framing a series of views into and through the garden. The center includes an information lobby, exhibition gallery, orientation room, gift shop and multi-purpose event space.

The center is designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification, utilizing the berm’s earth mass and the spectrally selective fritted glass walls to achieve a high-performing building envelope that minimizes heat gain and maximizes natural illumination. Other sustainable features include a green roof, a geothermal system for heating and cooling, a rain garden for on-site storm water management, water-saving fixtures, high-efficiency equipment, state-of-the-art controls and recycled and low-emitting materials.

Bushwick Inlet Park District Headquarters and Community Facility
Kent Avenue between North 9th Street and North 10th Street, Brooklyn
A Project of the Department of Parks & Recreation
Kiss + Cathcart, Architects
Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners

Project Description: The first phase of the future 28-acre Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Park, Bushwick Inlet Park will include a multipurpose athletic field for intensive year-round recreation and a building for community facilities and park operations, which is covered by an occupiable green roof, allowing 100% of the park area to be used by the public. The green roof rises up from the park with a meandering path that provides access to a series of plazas on the roof/hillside and ultimately to an overlook two stories above Kent Avenue.

The design restores the waterfront to a living marine edge and intertidal zone with a freshwater pool to cleanse the site storm water, providing a water source for migrating birds, and includes a waterfront terrace, passive lawn and native plantings to enrich the public viewing experience of the East River and Manhattan.

On track to receive LEED Platinum certification, the building is designed to achieve high environmental performance standards with a highly efficient heating-cooling system that uses geothermal wells, heat pumps and radiant floors; a photovoltaic system, generating more than half of all the energy used in the building; and a rainwater collection system to provide the majority of irrigation water to the green roof.

Inside Out by Richard Artschwager
Riverside Health Center, 160 West 100th Street, Manhattan
A Project of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Richard Artschwager

Project Description: Richard Artschwager, whose career spans nearly 60 years and who is known for his challenging, humorous and sometimes over-scaled work, brings his conceptual sensibility to Riverside Health Center with Inside Out. Motivated by the relationship and interplay between light and color and noting that this building needed “cheering up”, Artschwager responds to the existing architectural conditions of the health center.

Through the deceptively simple use of color in the form of bright orange terra cotta tiles on the interior and exterior of the stairwell, Artschwager’s installation will activate this central architectural element, thereby enlivening the building and encouraging patients to use the stairs.

Inside Out emphasizes the goals of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Take Care New York, and the Department of Design and Construction’s Fit City. Both initiatives, and Inside Out, address how the built environment can support physical and mental well-being.

The Opposite of a Duck by Janet Zweig
Glen Oaks Community Library, 256-04 Union Turnpike, Queens
A Project of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, the Department of Design and Construction and the Queens Library
Janet Zweig

Project Description: We sometimes visit the library looking for answers to questions, but there are some questions that simply have no answers. Janet Zweig investigated exactly what establishes a question as unanswerable through an online dialogue with philosophers around the world to build the collection of hundreds of unanswerable questions for her piece for the Glen Oaks Community Library’s children’s reading room.

Meant to be viewed in the round, this moving light sculpture will use a unique technology, consisting of circuit boards with LEDs on both sides attached to an undulating aluminum frame that will hang from the ceiling in a looping form with a long tail. Lines of light and text will slowly scroll around the sculpture, moving from one side to the other. At random times, faster-moving lines will scroll, signaling the output of one of the many unanswerable questions.

Some examples of the unanswerable questions include: For how long is now here? How do you know you’re not a computer? Is an apple alive when you eat it? Is there an invisible monster behind you? Do snakes have tails? What do dragons eat? How many skies are there? Can you walk north from the North Pole? Can you dig half a hole? What color is a mirror? And finally, what is the opposite of a duck?

Shapes by Allan McCollum
Elmhurst Community Library, 86-01 Broadway, Queens
A Project of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, the Department of Design and Construction and the Queens Library
Allan McCollum

Project Description: McCollum will be installing more than 1,000 shapes on the wall of the reading room at Elmhurst Community Library from floor to ceiling. The shapes will be cut from plywood, with a clear varnish, to reference a simple, do-it-yourself sort of project. Because Elmhurst was named for its elm trees, each shape will have a veneer of natural elm.

The shapes are each unique and derived from a system of 300 “parts” the artist has been working on since 1987 to create – without repeating – enough unique shapes to match the number of people on the planet when the population “peaks” in the middle of the 21st century.

The Elmhurst Community Library serves the borough of Queens, one of the most culturally diverse communities in the world. It is the artist’s intention that this collection of unique Shapes come to represent simultaneously both the commonality and the diversity of the Elmhurst community.

Mariners Harbor Branch of the New York Public Library
206 South Avenue, Staten Island
A Project of the Department of Design and Construction and the New York Public Library      
Atelier Pagnamenta Torriani

Project Description: The design concept is a cracked open shell, rough on the outside with a smooth, mother of pearl-like inside. The exterior materials include standing seam zinc cladding and fritted glazing. The overall strategy centers on maximizing daylight deep into the building, articulating the building volumes to fit in the neighborhood scale and extending visual comprehension of the inside/outside.

A larger volume contains the reading spaces with skylights that act as sundials during the day, marking the passing of the hours and of the seasons in the main reading space. A smaller volume contains the support functions. Both are organized along a circulation spine, which is glazed with integrated rooftop louvers, so that it is open to the sky as well as to the surrounding neighborhood, as it extends from the entry through the building into the rear terrace and garden with existing mature trees, providing a visual and physical continuum.

A Special Recognition Award for the Staten Island Court Complex
26 Central Avenue, Staten Island
A Project of the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, the New York State Office of Court Administration, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Polshek Partnership Architects
Mathews Nielsen Landscape

Project Description:   The court complex will accommodate a courthouse, a garage and a public memorial space above the 19th-century burial grounds for the former St. George Quarantine Hospital. The state-of-the-art facility will fulfill the modern programmatic requirements of the Supreme and Criminal Courts while respecting the site’s historical significance.

The overall design and massing of the courthouse reinforces its civic role and connections to the existing urban fabric of St. George. The central concept of the courthouse building revolves around the four equal “towers of justice”, representing equality under the law. The rhythm and order of these four vertical towers serves as a contemporary interpretation of the historic Corinthian portico of Carrere and Hastings’ early 20th-century Richmond County Courthouse. The towers also express the internal program organization of courtroom modules within the building.

The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, including a high-efficiency building envelope; green spaces and green roofs with native and adaptive vegetation; rainwater collection and storage system for irrigation needs; water-efficient landscaping and plumbing fixtures; maximum daylight and views.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

More Resources