Justin Garrett Moore exits New York City Public Design Commission for the Mellon Foundation


Justin Garrett Moore exits New York City Public Design Commission for the Mellon Foundation

Justin Garrett Moore (Dario Calmese/Courtesy Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)

Justin Garrett Moore, an urban designer and executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission (PDC), is leaving the commission to serve as the inaugural program manager for Humanities in Place, a new program established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that, per the foundation, “seeks to bring a variety of histories and voices into public, media, museum, and memorial spaces, widening the range of complex public storytelling.”

Moore has served as executive director of the PDC, New York’s governmental design review agency founded in 1898 as the Municipal Art Commission, since 2016. Before that, he was a senior urban designer at the New York City Department of Planning for over a decade and led a variety of projects including Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City, Queens, and the Brooklyn Cultural District in Fort Greene.

“During his tenure at the Public Design Commission, Justin worked tirelessly and creatively to ensure that New York City’s public design embodies our values of inclusiveness and fairness,” said New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been in a statement. “While we will miss working with such a wonderful colleague, we look forward to how he will further advance equity and diversity in public spaces with this new Andrew W. Mellon Foundation role.”

In his new role at the Mellon Foundation, which begins December 16, Moore will spearhead the implementation of the programmatic strategic plan for Humanities in Place as part of the Foundation’s ongoing work to “to broaden and deepen the range of how and where the stories of our histories and communities are told across public experiences as varied as built environments, digital platforms, and ephemeral programs.”

Moore will also work directly alongside Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, to help shape the Monuments Project, a five-year, $250 million grant initiative launched in October that will fund the creation of new memorials, monuments, and “historic storytelling spaces” that honor and celebrate the diverse number of Americans and American histories often unrepresented in the public space.

As previously reported by AN, the Monuments Project, in addition to supporting new monuments and memorials, will also provide grants to efforts that relocate problematic and painful relics existing in the public realm as well as initiatives that leave these monuments standing where they are but in a newly contextualized manner through education, research, and installations. In announcing Moore’s new role, Alexander referred to Moore’s design and planning work as “generous, creative, and geared toward impact.”

“From public spaces and art to innovative institutions and initiatives, places have the power to bring people together and promote greater understanding and inclusion,” said Moore in a statement. “The Humanities in Place program creates an opportunity to amplify long-marginalized voices and bring new resources to diverse environments. By grounding this work in the Foundation’s focus on social justice and by embracing complexity and difference in communities, I look forward to engaging the people, partnerships, and ideas needed to transform and care for our places and experiences.”

In addition to his extensive work with the PDC and New York’s planning department, Moore is a longtime educator and lecturer, serving as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he received degrees in both architecture and urban design. He has also taught at Yale, Tuskegee, and Morgan State University in Baltimore, and is a collaborator on Dark Matter University, a synergetic, BIPOC-led educational network founded with the mission to “work inside and outside of existing systems to challenge, inform, and reshape our present world to a better future.”

Moore is also a member of the American Planning Association’s AICP Commission, the Urban Design Forum, and the National Organization of Minority Architects and serves on various boards including the BlackSpace Urbanist Collective. In 2012, Moore co-founded Urban Patch, a social enterprise based in his native Indianapolis that’s focused on community revitalization projects in American inner cities.

The PDC has not named Moore’s successor yet, although the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio did announce last month the immediate appointment of two new commissioners to the 11-member agency: Deborah Marton, executive director of the nonprofit Van Alen Institute, and artist and educator Kenseth Armstead. Landscape architect Signe Nielsen currently serves as commission president.