Deborah Marton
courtesy Van Alen Institute Deborah Marton

The following is a July 11 press release from the Van Alen Institute, a nonprofit in New York, announcing that Deborah Marton, its current executive director, has been elected president of the New York City Public Design Commission.

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.”