NYC Public Design Commission announces Excellence in Design award winners

AN Exclusive

NYC Public Design Commission announces Excellence in Design award winners

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Public Design Commission (PDC) announced this year’s winners of the commission’s annual Awards for Excellence in Design.

“These thoughtful and innovative designs support the de Blasio administration’s commitment to providing quality, equitable, and resilient public spaces to all New Yorkers. By utilizing good design principles, these projects will provide the public with increased access to the waterfront, open spaces and parks; improved places for play and community gatherings; and inspiring artworks,” said PDC president Signe Nielsen, co-founding principal of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, in a statement.

Justin Garrett Moore, adjunct associate professor of architecture at Columbia University and the commission’s executive director, added: “Part of what makes our city great is the quality of our public realm and the creativity and ingenuity found in our design community and city agencies. These award-winning projects range from new technologies to improved neighborhood parks and public artwork. They show that design excellence is an important part of New York’s leadership in promoting innovation, sustainability, and equity in cities.”

For the past 34 years, the PDC, New York’s review board for public architecture and design, honors well-designed projects at all scales across the city. This year, honorees include James Corner Field Operations‘ and Diller Scofidio + Renfro‘s (DS+R) High Line spur, which will connect the celebrated park to Hudson Yards, as well as Bjarke Ingels Group‘s (BIG) police station in the Bronx, which The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), revealed earlier this year. On the smaller side, the commission honored LinkNYC, the public information kiosks that until recently helped New Yorkers watch porn, and the FDNY’s anti-idling ambulance pedals, devices that help reduce emissions from emergency vehicles out on call.

See the ten winning projects (and two specially recognized) below. All quotes courtesy the NYC Mayor’s Office:


40th Police Precinct
BIG and Starr Whitehouse
East 149th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue, Bronx
Agencies: the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), and the New York City Police Department

See AN‘s exclusive coverage of the 40th Precinct here.

Waterfront Nature Walk by George Trakas
George Trakas and Quennell Rothschild & Partners
Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant, 329 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn
Agencies: Department of Cultural Affairs’ (DCA) Percent for Art Program, DDC, and the Department of Environmental Protection

“The Waterfront Nature Walk revives a long-inaccessible industrial shoreline for public use as a waterfront promenade and kayak launch. This project expands the artist’s conceptual focus from the local histories to ruminations on a broader history of ecology and human existence.”

Van Name Van Pelt Plaza/Richmond Terrace Wetlands
Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) (in-house design)
Richmond Terrace between Van Pelt Street and Van Name Street, Staten Island
Agencies: NYC Parks and the Department of Transportation (DOT)

“The Van Name Van Pelt Plaza/Richmond Terrace Wetlands a gathering space that can be programmed for educational use and features engraved maps that describe the evolution of the island in relation to the waterway. Woody understory and herbaceous planting in the wetland park increase shoreline resilience. The design prioritizes public access to the waterfront while preserving the wetlands and enhancing avian habitat.”

Luminescence by Nobuho Nagasawa
Nobuho Nagasawa, Thomas Balsley Associates, Weiss/Manfredi Architects
The Peninsula, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, 54th Avenue, Center Boulevard, 55th Avenue, and the East River, Queens
Agencies: New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Parks

“Luminescence consists of seven sculptures, all of which are both beautiful and educational. A phosphorescent material integrated into the surface of each domed shape absorbs sunlight during the day and illuminates the phases of the moon at night with a soft blue glow. Additionally, the concrete and aggregate sculptures are etched with the moon’s pattern of craters, mountains, and valleys.”

Dock 72
S9 Architecture and MPFP
Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn
Agencies and firms: Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, the Boston Properties, Rudin Development, and WeWork

See ANs coverage of Dock 72 here.

The High Line Park Passage and Spur
JCFO, DS+R, and Piet Oudolf
West 30th Street between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue, Manhattan
Agencies and nonprofits: NYC Parks, NYCEDC, and Friends of the High Line

“The Spur is envisioned as a piazza with amphitheater-like seating steps that surround a central plinth for a rotating art program. The Passage and Spur will offer expansive views, dense woodland plantings, ample public seating, and a large open space for public programming, as well as public bathrooms for High Line visitors.”

Snug Harbor Cultural Center Music Hall Addition
Studio Joseph and SCAPE/Landscape Architecture
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island
Agencies and nonprofits: DDC, NYC Parks, DCA, and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center

“Outside the public entrance of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center Music Hall Addition, a landscaped courtyard and lawn provides flexible space for the Music Hall and Snug Harbor campus. This project will reinvigorate the historic theater, enhancing programmatic opportunities and operational efficiency that enable this cultural gem to put on its distinctive performances.”

SoHo Square
Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects
Sixth Avenue between Spring Street and Broome Street, Manhattan
Agencies and BID: DOT, NYC Parks, and the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District

“The renovation of SoHo Square, an under-utilized open space, will establish a distinct gateway to the thriving hub of Hudson Square. A central focal point at the mid-block crossing will be anchored by the relocated statue of General José Artigas (1987) by José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín, which will be conserved as part of the project.”

Anti-idling Ambulance Pedestals
Ignacio Ciocchini and MOVE Systems
Agency: Fire Department of the City of New York

“The anti-idling ambulance pedestals will reduce ambulance vehicle emissions without disrupting the Fire Department’s critical emergency operations. By plugging into these curbside pedestals, EMTs can safely shut off their engines while keeping their communication systems live and temperature-sensitive medicines refrigerated. This smart industrial design improves neighborhood air quality and ensures that the City’s ambulances are ready to respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice.”

CityBridge (Antenna Design, Intersection, Qualcomm, and CIVIQ Smartscapes)
Agency: Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications

See AN‘s coverage of LinkNYC here.


Parks Without Borders
NYC Parks (in-house)
Agency: NYC Parks

See AN‘s coverage of Parks Without Borders here and here.

Community Parks Initiative
NYC Parks (in-house); dlandstudio; Hargreaves Associates; Mathews Nielsen; MKW Landscape Architecture; Nancy Owens Studio; Prospect Park Alliance; Quennell Rothschild & Partners; Sage and Coombe Architects
Agency: NYC Parks

See AN‘s coverage of the Community Parks Initiative here.