Deborah Marton Named President of NYC Public Design Commission

July 11, 2023

Deborah Marton Named President of Public Design Commission, NYC’s Design Review Agency

Marton will lead a team of 11 members to advocate for equitable design for public spaces throughout New York City

NEW YORK (July 11, 2023) — Deborah Marton, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute, has been elected as President of New York City’s Public Design Commission (PDC). Marton has served as a PDC Commissioner since 2020 and was elected as President in a unanimous vote by her fellow commissioners. As part of her role as President, she will work closely with the members of the commission to review designs for City-owned property, including permanent structures, landscape architecture, and public art, while upholding the PDC’s mission to advocate for the innovative, sustainable, and equitable design of public spaces and civic structures across the five boroughs.

In her role as Executive Director of Van Alen Institute, Marton has led Van Alen’s evolved mission to create equitable cities through inclusive design, developing major public realm initiatives that center community interests. She guided the creation of Neighborhoods Now, an initiative with the Urban Design Forum that connected New York-based designers and interdisciplinary professionals with community-driven organizations for pandemic recovery strategies; and the expansion of Van Alen’s Public Realm R+D program, which invites emerging designers to create temporary installations that test new approaches to bring people together in public space. In addition, Marton oversaw Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge, an international design competition with the New York City Council to envision the iconic Brooklyn Bridge walkway as a center of equity, accessibility, and sustainability in 2019.

As President of the PDC, Marton will build on the legacy of Signe Nielsen, the former President, while helping to make New York City an equitable city through design.

“Design excellence is about more than what — what material or color or form. It’s about the who — who are we designing for, and did they have meaningful opportunities to contribute their perspective?” said PDC President Deborah Marton. “The PDC is committed to ensuring public buildings and civic spaces welcome and serve every New Yorker.”

About Deborah Marton

Deborah Marton is the Executive Director of Van Alen Institute, an independent non-profit working to create equitable cities through inclusive design. A leading voice on the intersection of environmental and social justice, she was previously Executive Director of New York Restoration Project, where she completed fulfillment of the private sector commitment to plant a million trees as part of New York City’s MillionTreesNYC initiative and lead creation and/or renovation of more than 50 community garden spaces throughout New York City’s most under resourced communities. In her previous role as Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space, Deborah launched the Taxi 07 program, resulting in a new purpose-built NYC taxi. As project director at James Corner Field Operations, she led the original Fresh Kills Master Plan team. Deborah was a program director for the New York City Dept. of Parks Natural Resources Group, and has lectured broadly, including as adjunct professor at the Univ. of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. Early in her career, Deborah was an associate with the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

About the Public Design Commission

As New York City’s design review agency, the Public Design Commission (PDC) has jurisdiction over permanent structures, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property. The mission of the PDC is to advocate for innovative, sustainable, and equitable design of public spaces and civic structures, with a goal of improving the public realm and therefore related services for all New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.

The PDC comprises 11 members, who serve pro bono and meet once per month, 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.

About Van Alen Institute

Van Alen Institute helps create equitable cities through community-led inclusive design. We partner with leaders of historically disinvested communities to support their immediate needs and long term visions with our network, knowledge, and resources. We shape diverse interdisciplinary teams, build cross-sector public/private coalitions, and invest our own funds to support neighborhood priorities. By centering community in everything we do, our inclusive design method responds to the urgent need for social justice in citymaking.

For 129 years, our purposeful community engagement, convening capacity, and global network have produced profound transformations in the public realm of New York City and beyond. With an interdisciplinary approach to design, the Van Alen team has backgrounds in architecture, arts and culture, community organizing, preservation, and public policy.

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