Department of Design and Construction311Search all websites

Three DDC Projects in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx Receive Design Awards From the Public Design Commission

May 23, 2018

Ian Michaels

Long Island City, NY – Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio of the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced today that three DDC projects have been selected by the Public Design Commission (PDC) to receive its Annual Award for Excellence in Design. This is the 36th year the PDC has presented the awards.

In Manhattan, the renovation of Hamilton Fish Park Library received recognition. Two of DDC’s Percent For Art projects also were cited, including at Snug Harbor Center Music Hall in Staten Island and at Westchester Square Library in the Bronx.

DDC previously received three PDC design awards in 2016 for the 40th Police Precinct in the Bronx, the Waterfront Nature Walk in Brooklyn and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center Music Hall Addition in Staten Island. It received another three PDC awards in 2017 for the design for the Downtown Far Rockaway Streetscape and the new Taxi and Limousine Commission Garage and Inspection Facility in Queens, as well as a new NYPD Bomb Squad facility in the Bronx. 

“DDC is honored to again receive multiple awards from the Public Design Commission, demonstrating the agency’s commitment to bringing top-quality design to the City’s public projects,” said DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio. “I want to thank the PDC for their consideration. I also want to thank DDC’s dedicated staff, as well as the outside architects and artists that we work with, for following Mayor de Blasio’s vision for equity, sustainability and community well-being, making this recognition possible.”

Hamilton Fish Park Library rendering
An artist’s rendering of the exterior of the Hamilton Fish Park Library after renovation

The Hamilton Fish Park Library at 415 Houston Street in Manhattan is a 1959 structure which hosts over 170,000 visitor per year. The renovation of the library will restore and renew the modernist structure, creating an open and accessible community space. On Houston Street, the main entrance will be expanded with new signage and a canopy that invite visitors into a day-lit reading room. The planting bed that spans the full length of the Houston Street façade will be reimagined to create a more welcoming space with raised planters, seating and lighting to provide a community amenity while enlivening views from inside the building.

To help meet the City’s “80x50” environmental goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the project includes an energy-efficient mechanical system and building envelope upgrade, which will restore the building’s original window openings, previously filled-in with brick and glass-block, with high-performance thermal glazing. The project was designed under the DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence Program by Rice+Lipka Architects.

Saul Becker rendering
A rendering of the future Aship, Aground, Anew Percent for Art project by artist Saul Becker

Aship, Aground, Anew by artist Saul Becker is a Percent for Art project slated for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center Music Hall at 1000 Richmond Terrace in Staten Island. His painting for Snug Harbor depicts an 18th-century sailing ship run aground and transformed by nature with mature trees growing out of its hull – a representation of the past and present merging into the future. Becker describes himself as “a painter deeply interested in the relationship between the landscape and the people that inhabit it.”

Becker’s work will be a floor-to-ceiling two-dimensional artwork approximately 162” x 186”, and installed in the main stairwell of the Snug Harbor Music Hall addition. The painting will be printed on a series of aluminum panels to create one two-story image. From outside, the fritted gradient on the building’s large windows provides the mural with an otherworldly appearance. Once a self-sustaining community for retired sailors, Snug Harbor has been a cultural center since 1975. Aship, Aground, Anew represents “a community founded in the maritime tradition, finding itself moved past that tradition, fostering new growth, and developing a new sense of being grounded,” the artist says.

Westchester Square Library rendering
A rendering of the second floor of the Westchester Square Library hosting the art installation Convergence

Convergence by artist Shawn Smith is the Percent for Art project slated for the Westchester Square Library, at 9 Westchester Square in the Bronx. The artist worked with the New York Audubon Society to research over 200 bird species found in the surrounding areas of Pelham Bay Park and the Bronx Zoo to develop his installation for the library.

Suspended from the second floor ceiling will be 100 sculptures constructed from approximately 2,500 individually painted pieces of basswood, a process that results in “pixelated” birds with forms abstracted, details blurred and colors intensified. The artist chose 20 different types of songbirds for a diverse mix of bright patterns, shapes and colors in predominantly red, orange and yellow hues to contrast against the greens and blues of the library’s ceiling. Placed throughout the space to suggest movement, the birds will converge at the children’s story time area – a metaphor for the community coming together at the library to learn, gather information, and connect to one another. From outside, the birds will be seen through the fritted glass of the building, which was designed by the architects as an abstraction of a tree canopy.

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.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $13 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit