The Public Design Commission was established as the Municipal Art Commission by the New York City Charter in 1898. The Commission was tasked with the oversight of all public artworks and monuments, but its purview quickly expanded to include public structures and open spaces. In 2008, the agency was renamed the Public Design Commission to better reflect its mission.
The Commission reviews permanent works of architecture, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property. The Commission comprises 11 members and includes an architect, landscape architect, painter, sculptor, and three lay members, as well as representatives of the Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Public Library, and the Mayor.
Members of the Commission serve pro bono and meet once per month. Projects are submitted by City agencies and include the construction, renovation, or restoration of buildings; the creation or rehabilitation of parks, playgrounds, and plazas; installation of lighting and other streetscape elements; signage; and the installation and conservation of artwork and memorials.
The Commission also acts as caretaker and curator of the City’s public art collection, which is located throughout the city’s public buildings and open spaces, and maintains an extensive archive documenting the history of New York City's public works.
Chapter 37 of the New York City Charter, which defines the Commission's purview, and the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure are maintained online by the New York Legal Publishing Corporation.