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Celebrating Architecture and Design

DDC works with world class architects, designers, agencies, and other professionals on projects for New York City. Their innovative designs and strategies help shape neighborhoods for decades to come.

Research shows that design can strengthen civic engagement and build social capital that helps communities thrive. New York can aspire to succeed for all when public buildings and civic infrastructure ease access and welcome individuals to services, opportunities, and resources. It too can thrive when architects and designers address a community’s challenges by designing buildings and infrastructure that are resilient, sustainable, and equitable.  

“When we think about equity, how do we design for all New Yorkers?” asks Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, Chief Architect at DDC. “How do we make our neighborhoods reflective of the values of the City? Think about design in that sense: how are we designing strong communities?” She emphasizes that the key to any project DDC does should contribute to the neighborhood. Libraries are a perfect example of that. They are designed to be welcoming, open, as well as sustainable and energy-efficient, providing valuable resources. Design that includes more plants, trees, and rain gardens not only beautifies areas but is beneficial for the environment as well.

One of the many ways DDC brings together innovative design and building strategies is through Design and Construction Excellence. Through this program, we work together with world-renowned and emerging consultants, whether large or small – including many minority and women-owned firms – to design efficient, contemporary, and visually engaging civic structures and high-quality infrastructure.

Below, find examples of how DDC works with architects and designers to create a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient New York City.

Elmhurst Library

elmhurst library

The 32,000-square-foot Elmhurst Library re-opened in December 2016 following a renovation project that tripled its size. It quickly became one of the jewels of the community, serving the needs of over 80,000 patrons in a diverse neighborhood where over 57 different languages are spoken.

Some of the features of the building include ADA-accessibility; separate reading areas for children, teens, and adults; and a new main reading atrium. It also features learning centers; a “memory wall”; two green roofs; and a garden among its 13,000-square-feet of outdoor space. It is LEED Silver Certified.

The design includes two glass cube structures that extend beyond the terra-cotta façade and animate the entrance area as well as the second floor reading room. This transparent design allows visitors to enjoy views of the landscaped exterior and gain exposure to daylight.

A Percent for Art installation entitled “Collection of Nine Hundred and Fifty Five Shapes” by Artist Allan McCollum as part of his Shapes Project is featured throughout the building. The installation received a Design Award from the Public Design Commission.

In 2017, the Library was the recipient of an Excellence Award at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Brooklyn + Queens Design Awards. The award represents the highest level of achievement bestowed by the organization. The Library also won the Center for Active Design Excellence Award.

Queens Museum


In 2014, DDC completed a 105,000-square-foot expansion of the Queens Museum. The new design includes a central gallery featuring a light-reflecting lantern made up of glass ribs that hangs beneath a large skylight. The museum’s newly renovated east and west façades filter in light to the space as well.

The design also incorporates several new classrooms and support spaces, allowing the museum to enhance its outreach to schools and the community. The design further includes informal areas for gathering, encouraging people to come together on their own terms.

The project has received several awards, including the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York Platinum Award for Structural Systems in 2015; the Municipal Art Society of New York MASterworks Awards for Best Adaptive Reuse and the AIA New York State Award of Merit in 2014.

Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and Salt Shed

Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and Salt Shed

Completed in 2014, the Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and the adjacent Spring Street Salt Shed have supported the City through cold winters and solidified their status as icons of civic architecture.

The Garage, a 425,000-square-foot facility, houses salt spreaders, garbage trucks, and street sweepers. It features a deployable panel system that serves as a flood barrier during storms due to the garage’s proximity to the Hudson River. This barrier allows the garage to bounce back quickly after a storm. The sustainable structure’s glass façade features 2,600 custom-made perforated metal panels that reduce solar heat and glare. A sloped green roof captures rainwater that’s used to clean the trucks inside.

The neighboring Spring Street Salt Shed is no exception to this resilient mind set. Made entirely of reinforced concrete, the structure protects the 5,000 pounds of road salt within from the threat of flood waters. Metal gates that act as the entryway to the structure are heavy and non-corrosive, and therefore able to keep out floating debris. It is LEED Gold Certified.

Both structures have received numerous awards, including the AIA National COTE Top Ten Award; the AIA NY Architecture Honor Award; and the AIA New York State Design Award for Excellence. 

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