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PR- 446-10
October 27, 2010


Artistic Screens Will Replace Blank Screens That Drape Buildings under Construction and Other Fences and Sheds That Protect the Public during Construction at Sites throughout the City

Construction Sites Will Feature New Information Panels with Architectural Renderings and Details about the Project

High-Resolution Images of the Winning Designs Can be Downloaded from the Mayor’s Office Flickr Page at

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and Public Design Commission Executive Director Jackie Snyder today announced the four winning designs of the urbancanvas Design Competition, a contest to help beautify New York City’s urban landscape with art at construction sites. Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s grant to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the competition challenged professional artists and designers to create artwork to be placed on temporary protective structures at construction sites – like mesh screens and fencing – that can be eyesores for New Yorkers. In addition, the Department of Buildings is incorporating its new standard construction information panel as part of this initiative, which provides an architectural rendering of the new building as well as information about the project. The winning designs of the competition, evaluated by a jury and voted on by the public which cast nearly 4,000 votes online, are: “BREATHING_WALL_UC,” by Monika Bravo; “Color Mesh,” by Mauricio Lopez; “My Urban Sky,” by Jen Magathan; and “Green Screen,” by Corinne Ulmann. The four winning artists will each receive $7,500 from the Rockefeller Foundation.

“Keeping New York City’s urban landscape an interesting, attractive place for New Yorkers and visitors has always been a priority for our Administration, and one major way we’ve done it is through public art,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Construction sites are a reality of a healthy, growing city, and through the urbancanvas competition, we’ll help make these temporary structures more exciting, attractive and informative.”

“Through our urbancanvas competition, we challenged artists and designers to re-imagine the potential of our streetscapes, and the response has been extraordinary,” said Deputy Mayor Harris. “The four artistic visions, chosen by public vote, reflect the City’s diversity and creativity. It represents the latest example of how we’re using public art to help redefine our streets and improve the pedestrian experience for all New Yorkers.”

“This competition was designed to dramatically change the status quo of the City’s streetscapes, and that change has already begun,” said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. “The winning designs are a stunning display of creativity and artistic expression that will transform the look of construction sites across the City. We expect that property owners, businesses and construction companies will share in our enthusiasm by bringing these designs to their sites as we seek to minimize the intrusion of these structures that are critical to public safety.”

“Thanks to this wonderful public-private partnership, which includes 4,000 online voters, four terrific designs by talented artists will enhance the City's streetscape,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. “We look forward to taking the next steps in this important partnership to enhance the City's livability and increase the creative community's contribution to our quality of life.”

The installation of the designs is voluntary and will be privately funded. Under the urbancanvas Pilot Program, property owners can choose one of the four winning designs at to install on construction fences, sidewalk sheds, supported scaffolds and cocoon systems on or over City-owned property, which are used to protect the public during the construction process.

The first design featured at a construction site – by Brooklyn-based artist Mauricio Lopez – is along a 228-foot-long construction fence on Atlantic Avenue at the Atlantic Yards construction site in downtown Brooklyn. The installation was funded by the project’s developer, Forest City Ratner. The second design to be featured at a construction site – “My Urban Sky,” by Jen Magathan – will be installed on a 100-foot construction fence and a 100-foot sidewalk shed at the City University of New York - Hunter College School of Social Work in East Harlem in the coming weeks. The development is a public/private partnership between CUNY and the Brodsky Organization and the installation is being sponsored by CUNY and Mauceri Signs & Awnings.

“The urbancanvas Design Competition is a truly innovative way to take construction sites, which are vital to the growth of our city, and develop them into beautiful artwork that celebrates the creative expression that is central to New York City’s identity,” said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin.  “The Rockefeller Foundation is pleased to congratulate the four winning artists on their work that will inspire New York City residents to experience the power of art and design as they walk down the city’s streets, and we are thrilled to see the first design installed at Atlantic Yards.” 

“We are thrilled to be part of this initiative,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, the Executive Vice President at Forest City Ratner Companies who is overseeing the Atlantic Yards project. “We do our best to minimize the impact of construction. This program recognizes that construction is also an opportunity for art and design and establishes a new level of excellence for all developers.  It also reminds us that while our intention is to build something beautiful that we must do our best to maintain the site during the construction process.”

“The urbancanvas program is an innovative way to help beautify our construction sites,” said Arana Hankin, Director of the Atlantic Yards Project for Empire State Development. “Thanks to the New York City Departments of Buildings and Cultural Affairs for running this competition, the result of which brightens communities with vibrant artwork while their neighborhoods are temporarily under construction. Congratulations and thanks to each of the artists selected; their bright murals will serve as a precursor to what is to come and get people excited about what is being transformed behind the wall.”

Monika Bravo (“BREATHING_WALL_UC”) is a Manhattan-based artist whose work is displayed in permanent exhibits around the world, such as Los Angeles International Airport, The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, the Comcast Building in Philadelphia and the AKA hotels in Times Square and Central Park. Ms. Bravo’s work has also been exhibited at the Seoul International Biennial of New Media Art, SITE Santa Fe and El Museo del Barrio. Her work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Art Nexus, Art in America and The New Yorker.

Mauricio Lopez (“Color Mesh”) is a Brooklyn-based artist with a background in architecture and graphic design who currently specializes in lighting and graphic design for high-end corporate, residential, retail, hospitality and institutional buildings. His work has been exhibited in Colombia and the United States, as well as selected for public art installations, such as the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts for Transit program. Mr. Lopez received a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the University from the National University of Colombia, certified by the Royal Institute of British Architecture. He was assisted in the urbancanvas Design Competition by Jesse T. Ross.

Jen Magathan (“My Urban Sky”) is a Massachusetts-based graphic artist who currently works as a project designer for Tank Design Inc. in Cambridge, MA. Earlier in her career, Ms. Magathan was a graphic designer and architect at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP. She received a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design.

Corinne Ulmann (“Green Screen”) is a Brooklyn-based artist who specializes in large-scale public art designs. Currently, her work is featured on a 6,500 square-foot mural in the Hell’s Kitchen section in Manhattan. Ms. Ulmann received a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis. Ms. Ulmann is a former design project manager at Maya Lin Studio and has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the last three years.

The winners were selected from 133 design submissions from 17 states, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington State. The designs were evaluated by the competition’s jury based on artistic merit, originality and ability to adapt to various temporary protective structures, sizes, configurations and different locations. In the creation of their designs, competitors were asked to develop artwork that took New York City’s diverse populations into consideration. The finalist designs reflect diversity, complement and enliven the City’s varied streetscapes and promote the safe maintenance of temporary protective structures. After being selected by the jury, the chosen designs were submitted to the Public Design Commission of the City of New York for review and approval.

The competition’s jury was comprised of: 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; Sara Reisman, Director, Percent for Art Program, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Eddie Torres, Associate Director, the Rockefeller Foundation; and NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri. The Public Design Commission of the City of New York was represented by Paula Scher, a Principal at Pentagram Design, who served in an advisory capacity. Susanna Sirefman of Dovetail Design Strategists is the competition advisor overseeing the development and management of the competition.  

Eligible participants will have the option of placing a pictorial rendering of the exterior of the project being built on the temporary protective structures in lieu of artwork. Selected designs will be allowed to include the name of one art sponsor displayed in accordance with the pilot program specifications. The NYC Construction Codes currently prohibit, with limited exceptions, the posting of any material on temporary protective structures.


Stu Loeser / Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958

Tony Sclafani / Jennifer Gilbert   (Department of Building)
(212) 566-3473

Danai Pointer   (Department of Cultural Affairs)
(212) 513-9322

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