As New York City’s design review agency, the Public Design Commission (PDC) has jurisdiction over permanent structures, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property. The mission of the PDC is to advocate for innovative, sustainable, and equitable design of public spaces and civic structures, with a goal of improving the public realm and therefore related services for all New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.

The Commission is made up of 11 members who serve pro bono and meet once per month to review and vote on projects submitted by City agencies. Members include an architect, landscape architect, painter, sculptor, and three lay members, as well as representatives of the Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library, and the Mayor. The PDC staff assists the Commission members in their duties and guides submitting agencies through the design review process.

When reviewing proposals, the Commission considers a diverse range of design parameters, including the unique history and context of the site and surrounding area, the durability and resiliency of the materials, the maintainability of the design, the appropriateness of the design in terms of how it will facilitate the desired functions and programs, and how the design can best serve the public.

The PDC has developed guidelines for certain types of projects intended to provide a general sense of designs the Commission supports, clarify requirements, provide guidance to applicants, and streamline the review process. In addition, the PDC has worked with City agencies to develop expedited review strategies for prototypical and standardized designs and projects with small scopes.

The PDC also acts as caretaker and curator of the City’s public art collection, which is located throughout the city’s public buildings and open spaces, and maintains an extensive archive documenting the history of New York City's public works.

The Commission’s purview and rules are outlined in Chapter 37 of the New York City Charter and the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure.