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Unhelmed for five months, the sixteen-year-old Design Trust for Public Space tomorrow will announce the appointment of Bloomberg administration’s Susan Chin as the new executive director, effective October.
Chin is a public servant through and through, having served as Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for over twenty years. Some of the projects that she has helped shepherd into existence with city funding include Leeser Architecture’s Museum of the Moving Image (2011), Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Alice Tully Hall (2009), SANAA’s New Museum (2008), and Curtis + Ginsberg’s Staten Island Zoo Reptile Wing renovation (2006). She also oversaw the Percent for Art program and the Community Arts Development Program.
Chin’s particular interest in advancing the cause of architecture has been amply demonstrated by stints as the president of AIA New York and as current chair of the AIA Gold Medal advisory committee. In a press release, Design Trust founder Andrea Woodner said, “The selection of Susan Chin affirms a bedrock principle of our organization: we work in partnership with the public sector to improve New York’s built environment.”
The Design Trust has been a player in such city-improving initiatives as the first study on readapting the High Line, developing a greenish taxi cab, and the first-ever High Performance Guidelines for Buildings, Infrastructure and Landscape in collaboration with the NYC Departments of Design and Construction, and Parks & Recreation. That impressive range of civic activism took place while Bloomberg was in high gear. The challenge now will be to keep operations as vital should a subsequent administration be less design-minded. Presumably, Chin will draw some inside support from the Parks Department where her husband, Charles McKinney is the Principal Urban Designer. Former executive director Deborah Marton, who served from 2004 until last April, is now Vice President for Programs at the New York Restoration Project.