Photo: Krisanne Johnson

In 2013 we awarded the seventh Photo Urbanism Fellowship to the Brooklyn-based photographer Krisanne Johnson to document “life under and around elevated infrastructure in New York City.” 

New York City has nearly 700 miles of elevated infrastructure—bridges, highways, subway tracks, and rail lines—towering above its streets and weaving throughout its five boroughs. The 2013 Photo Urbanism Fellowship was awarded to support and inform the Design Trust’s current project with the New York City Department of Transportation, Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities, which is focused on reclaiming and transforming the public spaces underneath elevated infrastructure.

A documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, Krisanne was interested in exploring the shared humanity of space under and around elevated infrastructure in New York City. Through her Photo Urbanism fellowship, Krisanne hoped to "tell the stories of the people who share these spaces and how the massive physical presence can foster and shape different kinds of social interaction.

Krisanne spent a year exploring and documenting how this massive transit system and the millions of square feet of public space below it influence life in the city. Through Krisanne’s lens, we are able to see how local residents have, in some cases, adopted and embraced these spaces for community use, and recognize the incredible potential that exists to maximize and transform the public space under our city’s bridges, highways, subways and rail lines so that they better serve all New Yorkers.

Selection Jury

  • Iwan Baan, photographer
  • Linda Pollak, Marpillero Pollak Architects
  • Mark Robbins, Chair, International Center of Photography
  • Susanna Sirefman, Dovetail Design Strategists
  • Rob Stephenson, photographer
  • Erica Stoller, Esto
  • Paul Warchol, photographer

Program Support

Lawrence Lederman 
NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs
New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency

about Photo Urbanism

An ongoing program of the Design Trust for Public Space, Photo Urbanism provides fellowships to photographers to create a body of work about the role of public space in New York City.

In 2011, we adopted a new curatorial approach to the  program, by linking the fellowship more directly to an active Design Trust project. By focusing the fellowship on a particular public space issue, we give the photographer access to communities and sites they would be unable to enter alone. In turn, the photographer’s artistic vision brings a new perspective, informing and illuminating the potential of our city’s undiscovered and under-used public spaces. 

The first fellowship awarded under these new guidelines went to Rob Stephenson to work in tandem with our Five Borough Farm project. Krisanne received the second fellowship to work in tandem with our Under the Elevated project

Krisanne Johnson's work really stood out for me, deeply personal, and a great engagement with her subjects.

Iwan Baan, photographer