Neil Gagliardi, Wendy Feuer, Commissioner Polly Trottenberg

Photo: Sam Lahoz

20 years, 20 champions. Each instrumental in Design Trust's lasting impact on NYC's public realm. Each another journey.

Hear from each champion, one every day here on our blog, culminating with a grand celebration on October 14, at Christie's. While enjoying a festive evening of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction of art and design, you'll also meet the 20/20 Public Space Champions in person.

Join us to celebrate our champions, who have tirelessly been working to improve the daily lives of New Yorkers for two decades. Jumpstart the next 20 years of urban innovation by buying a ticket to the gala today.

Design Trust's Under the Elevated study has put NYC at the forefront of reclaiming nearly 700 miles of underused space underneath elevated bridges, highways, subway and rail lines, and transforming and reconnecting adjacent neighborhoods across NYC and beyond. 

We truly appreciate our partnership with NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) on this project. We’d especially like to thank and recognize NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for her great support of this groundbreaking initiative to improve spaces along the elevated infrastructure across five boroughs, and her dedicated staff led by Assistant Commissioner Wendy Feuer and Urban Design Director Neil Gagliardi.

The Under the Elevated study includes new design and programming ideas organized into short-term pop-up and pilot, and long-term permanent recommendations. The ideas range from electrical vehicle charging and comfort stations under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, to art studios, retail stores, or outdoor training facilities in Highbridge Park, or areas for food trucks below the Gowanus Expressway.

We also propose creating the El-Space Program within the NYC DOT to streamline permitting as well as design and construction review processes. Capitalizing on the special character of these el-space sites as gateways, corridors, and connectors in underserved neighborhoods, DOT is conducting further investigation.

Whether deploying planted beds to retain and filter storm water runoff of pollutants, oil and heavy metal, while reducing the overload on the city’s sewer system, or building bio-walls of trees or acoustic barriers to mitigate noise and clean the air of particulates, this program has the potential to enhance the value of this immense network of public space.

Learn more about Under the Elevated and the El-Space Program. 

Public spaces are vital because, when well-designed, whether on streets or beneath the city’s vast elevated infrastructure, they become assets that millions of New Yorkers can enjoy and treasure.

Polly Trottenberg, NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner