Advocates for excellence in the urban environment

We champion innovative public works.

The Federation’s advocacy encompasses even large infrastructure projects, where inspired design can serve civic aspirations.

With a $4.5 billion master plan, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is perhaps the largest and best example of the role design excellence can play in the grittiest of urban contexts. Faced with an outdated facility, New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection teamed with world-class designers and community representatives to plan for the future of the city’s largest wastewater treatment plant while responding to environmental and aesthetic concerns.

Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), working with environmental engineering consultants Greeley and Hansen, Hazen and Sawyer, and Malcolm Pirnie, and lighting artist Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire International, used a variety of inventive strategies to incorporate public design into this massive engineering effort. A visitor center designed by Vito Acconci features installations about the city’s sewer system, while environmental sculptor George Trakas designed the quarter-mile Newtown Creek Nature Walk with views of the industrial landscape. And dramatic lighting has turned the eight stainless-steel-clad “digester eggs” into a new city landmark.

The New York City Public Design Commission honored Newtown Creek with two Awards for Excellence in Design, citing the project’s sensitivity to the challenge of expanding a large-scale industrial project within a residential neighborhood.

Photo Credit: Jeff Goldberg/Esto for Ennead Architects