By ROBBIE WHELAN
Over the last eight years, one of the Bloomberg administration’s most notable efforts to improve how New York City looks, feels and functions has been the Design and Construction Excellence program, which has designated a handful of top-tier architecture firms as go-to designers of municipal projects, giving them millions of dollars in commissions.
Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal
Claire Weisz of WXY Architecture, designer of security booths installed at Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center.
One of these commissions is a set of modern-looking, steel-and-glass security booths at Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, completed last year by WXY Architecture.
The booths, which elegantly solve a design problem of how to build security infrastructure that are both aesthetically appealing and unobtrusive—are a good example of the program’s importance to the city. Even the most seemingly banal projects can benefit from good design, and the city’s urban fabric should be built to make allowances for quality architectural at even it is most granular levels.
Claire Weisz, a principal with WXY Architecture who designed the booths, says that when she was in architecture school in the 1980s, many American city governments turned away from design, as their urban centers began to descend into crime and decay.
“I went to school at a time when cities were being disregarded. No one cared about them,” Ms. Weisz said recently over a breakfast at Junior’s restaurant in downtown Brooklyn. “But in architecture school, cities were all the rage—you absorbed a tremendous amount of information about city planning, urban theory and city-making.”
Last week, 189 firms applied for 20 spots on a city list for smaller architecture firms wanting to receive work from the city’s Department of Design and Construction. These firms will be assigned projects costing less than $15 million. Six more, larger firms, will be selected for projects costing between $15 million and