Video: Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum 

The Design Trust for Public Space, the nonprofit organization that unlocks the potential of New York City’s public space, was founded in 1995 by sculptor and philanthropist Andrea Woodner to bring design expertise and big-picture systems thinking into the public realm. The Design Trust is at the forefront of shaping New York City’s shared civic spaces—streets, plazas and parks, transportation and housing developments.

The Corporate & Institutional Achievement Award is given in recognition of a corporation or institution that uses design as a strategic tool as part of its mission, and has consistently exhibited ingenuity and insight in the relationship between design and quality of life.

The Design Trust has brought forth 30 multi-year projects, working with over 40 city agencies and community groups and over 90 fellows to transform places where New Yorkers live, work, and play. The organization’s projects saved the High Line structure and the Garment District, jumpstarted New York City’s first custom-built Taxi of Tomorrow, pioneered a model Community Design School in Queens, and created the city’s Design Manual for 21st Century Parks that was a precursor to OneNYC.

The Design Trust values state:

  • The cultural and democratic life of the city depends on viable public space;
  • Design excellence is the minimum requirement for all public space;
  • Social justice and environmental sustainability must guide public space design;
  • Rigorous engagement with all stakeholders plays a determining role in the quality of public space;
  • Cross-sector partnership is vital to achieving and sustaining long-term change.

The award recipients will be honored at a gala dinner and ceremony Thursday, October 19, 2017, at the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden at Cooper Hewitt. The National Design Awards are accompanied each year by National Design Week, which takes place this year October 14–22. Related Design Trust programs will be posted on our events page.


We get things done! The Design Trust facilitates collaboration between city agencies, designers, artists and outside experts and knowledgeable community members to create change for a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable city. We challenge and transform the system, produce replicable models, and build a caring and dedicated constituency. We solve problems from the bottom up AND the top down to spark unexpected and lasting institutional change. We’re thrilled and deeply grateful to Cooper Hewitt and the Awards jury for this prestigious recognition, and thank our founder and board members for making us pioneers of great design. There couldn’t be a more meaningful time than now, when we’ve just unveiled the Design Trust’s 2017 Call for Project Ideas—'Public for All: Rethinking Shared Space in NYC.'

Susan Chin, FAIA, Hon. ASLA, Executive Director, Design Trust for Public Space