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De Blasio Administration Announces Winners of 38th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design: Toward a Sustainable NYC

October 28, 2020

Projects in all five boroughs provide critical open space, public services, and inspiration for New Yorkers

NEW YORK—Today, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been, Public Design Commission President Signe Nielsen and Executive Director Justin Moore announced winners of the 38th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design.

The 11 winning projects were selected by the Public Design Commission members from the hundreds of submissions reviewed last year and exemplify how a foundation in good design can achieve civic projects that serve communities, inspire neighborhood pride, and provide durable and resilient spaces for New Yorkers. 

Faced with an unprecedented global pandemic, New York City agencies are stepping up to meet the current and future needs of New Yorkers. This year’s awards are dedicated to the City agency staff and the designers and artists who have been working diligently to design temporary spaces that provide safe public recreation and critical health services while also planning future designs that will enhance public spaces, better serve the public, and create a more resilient city.

As part of this year’s event, the PDC will highlight 16 award-winning projects from the past five years that contribute to the strategic plan of New York City’s OneNYC 2050 and the global Sustainable Development Goals that were developed by the United Nations.

The Design Awards book is available here and high-resolution images of this year’s winners can be found here.

“New York City has been challenged this year like never before, and rebuilding a fairer and better city means relying on our public spaces more than ever,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The projects awarded today will help us celebrate our heritage, embrace outdoor space, and give New Yorkers the beautiful and healthy neighborhoods they deserve.”

“COVID-19 made clear just how essential access to a safe, healthy, and livable built environment is to ensuring our residents’ health and wellbeing,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “The smart design evidenced in the projects being awarded today can and should be the standard to make our city's recovery healthier, fairer, and more resilient.”

“This year, as we struggle through this unprecedented time, the Public Design Commission acknowledges the hard work of every city employee, designer, and artist who has worked on these awarded projects. Collaborating with multiple agencies and meeting the needs of a vast array of stakeholders, these teams have designed libraries, infrastructure, open spaces, and artworks that celebrate the many diverse cultures and communities throughout the city. And it is through their perseverance that New York City's public spaces have been designed with the social and environmental resiliency to meet the challenges of today and our future,” said Public Design Commission President Signe Nielsen.

"The pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests bring broader awareness and acknowledgment that longstanding social and environmental justice issues, including the design of the built environment, affect us all. We need to do more and better for our people, places, and the planet, whether that is creating moments of beauty, healing, and joy through public art and landscapes or designing for better housing and clean water. The projects highlighted this year show that our City agencies and a diverse group of designers, artists, builders, and stakeholders are working creatively and innovatively to make our city better," said Public Design Commission Executive Director Justin Garrett Moore.

“Covid-19 has unraveled the way we live, learn and work and critically amplified how our most vulnerable communities were disproportionally affected by the pandemic.  As we strive to build back better, we are using all the tools at our disposal and that must include people-centered, environmentally-sustainable design.  We are so proud to have supported the Public Design team in this incredible work to integrate the Global Goals. With OneNYC and the Sustainable Development Goals as our framework and these awarding-winning projects as our inspiration, a fairer, more resilient future is well within reach,” said International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena

"As we face down a looming climate crisis amid a void of federal leadership, cities all across the globe are stepping up to take action and advance climate solutions," said Daniel Zarrilli, New York City's Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director. "OneNYC 2050, New York City’s long-term plan, is demonstrating to the world what a Green New Deal looks like in practice and leading the way toward a more resilient and inclusive future. The sustainable design projects we’re recognizing today prove that we can accelerate a green recovery, achieve justice for our communities on the front lines of our climate crisis, and ensure a livable future for the next generation.” 

The Public Design Commission

The Public design Commission reviews permanent works of architecture, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property. The Commission comprises 11 members, including 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.

Members of the Commission serve pro bono and meet once per month. Projects considered for the annual awards are submitted by City agencies and include the construction, renovation, or restoration of buildings and other structures; the creation or rehabilitation of parks, playgrounds, and plazas; installation of lighting and other streetscape elements; signage; and the installation and conservation of artwork and memorials. Through its Annual Awards for Excellence in Design, the Commission has been celebrating good design in public projects since 1983.

The Design Award-Winning Projects

Para Roberto by Melissa Calderon
Roberto Clemente Plaza
Third Avenue, East 147th Street, East 149th Street, and Willis Avenue, the Bronx
A project of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, the Department of Design and Construction, the Department of Transportation, and the Third Avenue BID
Melissa Calderon
Garrison Architects

  • This site-specific artwork honors Roberto Clemente, the Hall-of-Fame outfielder and humanitarian, incorporating familiar elements that speak to the memories and history of Clemente’s life and the shared experiences of the many Bronxites that have come to New York City from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and beyond.

Bronx Point Mixed-use Development
575 Exterior Street, Major Deegan Expressway, 145th Street Bridge, East 150th Street, and the Harlem River, the Bronx
A project of the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Parks & Recreation
S9 Architects
Marvel Architects
Abel Bainnson Butz

  • This mixed-use neighborhood development will offer more than 500 units of permanently affordable public housing, feature a dedicated home to the Universal Hip Hop Museum, and provide retail and community facility spaces as well as 3 acres of public open space.

Red Hook Library Renovation
7 Wolcott Street, Brooklyn
A project of the Economic Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Public Library

  • A complete renovation will enable this 8,000 square foot library to better serve multi-generational programmatic requirements while providing integrated education and learning spaces for the community with a design that addresses health and climate change by utilizing sustainable materials, clean energy, and resiliency.

Colorful Companions by Olalekan Jeyifous
Brooklyn Animal Care Center
832 Shepherd Avenue, Brooklyn
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
Olalekan Jeyifous
Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects

  • Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Olalekan Jeyifous enlivens the new Brooklyn Animal Care Center in East New York with vivid moments that reference the playful relationship between pets and their owners. Integrated throughout the exterior and interior, the artwork is designed to boost the presence of the BACC and draw visitors into the site.

Eastern Parkway Branch Library Addition
1044 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
A project of the Department of Design and Construction the Brooklyn Public Library
Allied Works Architecture
Starr Whitehouse

  • Along with an interior renovation that will return this 1914 Carnegie Library to its former beauty, the addition was designed as a minimal intervention that respects the historic structure while providing flexible generous, safe and inclusive space for residents and patrons of all ages, abilities and backgrounds

Primary Settling Tanks Pre-houses Rehabilitation
3rd Drive between B Road and H Road, Wards Island Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, Wards Island
A project of the Department of Environmental Protection
DEP In-house
CDM Smith

  • This project updates and enhances a critical component of the plant’s wastewater resource recovery process with a design that draws from the material, texture, and color palette of the facility’s existing architecture, which ranges from WPA-era to contemporary, in order to establish a fresh yet contextual design.

Monsignor Kett Playground Reconstruction
West 204th Street between Nagle Avenue and Tenth Avenue
A project of the Department of Parks & Recreation
DPR In-House

  • In the spirit of NYC’s Parks Without Borders initiative, the design establishes a grand welcoming entrance while incorporating flood resilient materials and increased permeability to address climate change. Diverse areas for activities ensure the park will continue to be a crucial and lively gathering space for the local community.

Michaelis-Bayswater Park Reconstruction
Bay 32nd Street, Beach Channel Drive, Beach 35th Street, and Norton Avenue, Far Rockaway, Queens
A project of the Department of Parks & Recreation

  • This complete reconstruction of the 30-acre park will protect the site from future flood damage caused by predicted climate change with a resiliency strategy that was informed by research and field studies. The design was informed by direct engagement with local user groups who helped identify the recreational needs of the community.

Curiouser by Mark Reigelman II
Charleston Branch Library
Tyrellan Avenue and Bricktown Way, Staten Island
A project of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, the Economic Development Corporation and the New York Public Library
Mark Reigelman II
ikon.5 architects

  • Installed throughout the library for guests to discover, Curiouser is a collection of intimate and charming bronze sculptures that encourage a curiosity about literature and the history of Staten Island. These cast sculptures, like books, become portals to other possible worlds to explore and inhabit.

Special Recognition Awards
Hunters Point South Waterfront Park and Streetscape
50th Avenue, Second Street, Newtown Creek, and the East River, Queens
A project of the Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Parks & Recreation
Weiss Manfredi

  • Serving an ambitious adjacent affordable housing development with more than 5,000 units, Hunters Point South is envisioned as an international model of urban ecology and innovative sustainable design.

The Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, for its dedication to quality and equity in the City’s public art collection.

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