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    The following is a news release from NYC - where the Mayor actually has RESULTS from his "excellence in design and construction initiative". I sure wish our Mayor Mandel combined this approach with his external design review committee.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PR- 253-06 July 18, 2006

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Art Commission President Joyce Menschel today honored eight public projects for excellence in design at the 24th Annual Art Commission Awards. The ceremony, held at The Morgan Library & Museum, also included a special recognition award for the Horticultural Society of New York's GreenBranches Program, which designs, installs and maintains gardens at branch libraries throughout the five boroughs. The winning projects were selected from hundreds of submissions that the Art Commission reviewed in 2005 and exemplify the highest design standards. The winning projects will be on display at the Van Alen Institute for one month beginning July 25th. Joining the Mayor at the awards presentation was First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris.

    "Tonight, I am happy to present awards to the best public projects of 2005 for excellence in design," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The projects being recognized tonight have set a higher standard for public works and, most importantly, are enjoyed by New Yorkers every day. Through the City's Design and Construction Excellence Initiative launched in 2004, we're ensuring that new public projects - like the ones honored tonight - meet a higher standard for design and overall excellence. With more than 60 new projects now underway throughout every borough, we're improving the quality of public spaces through design achievement."

    "It has been especially gratifying to work with an Administration that has helped the Art Commission realize some of its long-held goals, and has supported major works of public art, both temporary and permanent," said Art Commission President Joyce Menschel. "As Mayor Bloomberg has said repeatedly, good design has the power to improve people's lives, and we are thrilled this evening to be honoring public projects that will have a positive impact both on their communities and on the City as a whole."

    In 2004, Mayor Bloomberg established the "Design and Construction Excellence Initiative" to encourage City agencies to strive for the same level of excellence in design for all public works - large and small - that are recognized annually by the Art Commission. The initiative, which established new ways of contracting with design consultants to emphasize quality in the selection process, secured the most creative designers for City-funded projects and has ensured excellence in the design and construction process. It has attracted world-renowned design firms as well as small and emerging ones, including minority and women-owned businesses.

    The initiative also considers the long-term operating and maintenance savings that can be gained from emphasizing merit in design. Projects currently in design include the Queens Hospital Center EMS Station and the Visitors' Center at Poe Park in the Bronx.

    The Design Award-winning projects will be on display at the Van Alen Institute from July 25th through August 25th. An opening reception on July 25th will officially launch the exhibition.

    The following are the recipients of the 24th Annual Art Commission Awards for Excellence in Design:

    Construction of the Weeksville Heritage Center and Adjacent Landscape, including the Installation of "Sugar in My Bowl II" by Chakaia Booker
    This is a project at Buffalo Avenue in Brooklyn and created in collaboration with the Department of Design and Construction, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Percent for Art Program. Architects are Sara Caples, Everardo Agosto from Jefferson and Caples Jefferson. The Landscape architects are Elizabeth Kennedy and Artist Chakaia Booker.

    Construction of Ronald McNair Park
    This is a project in Manhattan at East 122nd and East 123rd Street, from Lexington Avenue to Third Avenue. Ronald McNair Park is being designed by Department of Parks & Recreation Designer Nancy Prince.

    Installation of the Flight 587 Memorial by Freddy Rodríguez, and Adjacent Landscape
    This is a project at Beach 116th Street, Rockaway Beach in Belle Harbor, Queens. The Memorial is collaboration between the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Department of Cultural Affairs, Percent for Art Program, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction. The artist is Freddy Rodríguez and the designers are Rachel Kramer and Kevin Quinn from Department of Parks & Recreation. Architects are Kaitsen Woo from Bharaat Patel, Kaitsen Woo, and Signe Nielsen. The Landscape Architect is Tricia Martin, STV Incorporated, and the Project Manager is Martin Hartmann. Situ Studio is the preliminary and Schematic Design Consultant to the Artist.

    Construction of a Step Street
    This is a project at Tillotson Avenue in the Bronx. The construction of a step street is a collaboration between the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation. Landscape Architects are Molly Bourne and Mathews Nielsen.

    Construction of Five Street End Parks
    This is a project in Manhattan between 202nd and 206th Street, between Ninth Avenue and the Harlem River. The Five Street End Parks is a project of the Department of Parks & Recreation and their Designers, Claire Dudley and Natasha Andjelic.

    Construction of the Center for Global Conservation
    This is a project at the Bronx Zoo, at 2350 Southern Boulevard. The Center for Global Conservation is a project of Department of Cultural Affairs and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Principal is Sylvia J. Smith of FXFOWLE Architects and the Director of Planning and Design is Susan A. Chin of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

    Construction of plant upgrades and new facilities, Tallman Island Water Pollution Control Plant
    This project is located at 127th Street and Powell's Cove Boulevard in College Point, Queens. The Tallman Island Water Pollution Control plant is a project of the Department of Environmental Protection. The Earth Tech is George Shelden and the Deputy Project Manager is Vatche Minassian of Blasland, Bouck and Lee.

    Historic Inventory and Replacement of Seven Robert Moses-Era Vehicular Bridges and Adjacent Landscape
    This project is located on the Shore (Belt) Parkway in Brooklyn. It is a project of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Principals are Marion Pressley of Pressley Associates and Paul McGinley of Kalsow & Associates. The Senior Project Manager is Semyon Burshteyn of URS.

    Special Recognition Award:

    The GreenBranches Program
    The GreenBranches Program was developed to encourage the design, installation and maintenance of beautiful gardens at branch libraries around the City, for use for children and adult programs and workshops. A project of The Horticultural Society of New York, in cooperation with the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library and Queens Library, the innovative program has designed 17 gardens in branch libraries across the City.

    The Art Commission is New York City's design review agency. Established in 1898, the Commission's mandate is to review works of art, architecture and landscape architecture on City-owned property for aesthetic merit. It is comprised of 11 members and includes an architect, landscape architect, painter and sculptor as well as representatives of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library.

    Stu Loeser / Silvia Alvarez (212) 788-2958