Press Releases

Press Release #09-039

DOT Builds On World-Class Streets Initiative With Public Art Installation Series

Temporary pARTners installations at first of five locations are part of the agency's Urban Art Program to transform and enhance the City’s streetscapes

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced the first series of artwork to arrive on City streets through the agency’s Urban Art Program under its pARTners initiative while also unveiling “Welcomed Guests,” a new public-art installation made from recycled materials that adds new seating to underused pedestrian space. As a DOT pARTners project, “Welcomed Guests”—10 outdoor seats made from barrels that also support birdhouses mounted atop 14-foot poles—transforms an underutilized sidewalk area into an extraordinary destination through the addition of temporary public art, creating new public space atop asphalt that brightens and enlivens the streetscape for all who use it. DOT commissioned the interactive piece through a community-based partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a nonprofit that provides community-based recycling and environmental education programs. Designed by Red Hook-based artist Atom Cianfarani, “Welcomed Guests” serves to inspire the imagination while demonstrating the creative promise and practical application of using recycled materials. The installation, the first of five installations that are part of the pARTners initiative, is located on the sidewalk of Columbia Street and Halleck Street in Brooklyn.

"The streets and sidewalks of New York City mean transportation but they’ve also always been an inspiration and refuge for its residents, and we’re working to transform them even further into vibrant, livable and in-demand spaces," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "By adding public art we can create captivating streetscapes that stir the imagination of communities and visitors alike."

"Aurora," a three-dimensional abstract sculpture created by the artist Diego Medina in partnership with the Bronx River Art Center, also joins "Welcomed Guests" as the City's newest public art display and is currently on view at East Tremont Avenue and Boston Road in the Bronx. Other pieces will be available in the coming weeks and months, including "Urban Garden," a sculptural installation made from recycled bike parts; "A Collection of Local Memories," a three-dimensional piece that incorporates imagery from stories told by local residents; and "Dream Outside the Box," an artistic representation of the American flag that features quotes by students from the adjacent elementary school.

These installations add to other initiatives by DOT's Urban Art Program to enhance public space through art and improved street design and streetscapes. Launched in October 2008, the Urban Art Program brings the vision of the agency's World Class Streets initiative to life by partnering with community organizations to install murals, sculptures and other art forms in plazas and on medians, triangles, sidewalks, jersey barriers and construction fences for up to 11 months on DOT properties Citywide. Organizations or organization-artist teams are invited to apply to one of three Urban Art Program tracks-pARTners, Site to Site and Arterventions--that offer the public new ways to view and experience City streets through art. Examples of these pieces, including "Horsing Around the Arrows of Time," an installation in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and "New York is a Roller Coaster," a mural in Washington Heights, Manhattan, can be found Citywide.

Using repurposed materials Cianfarani fashioned "Welcomed Guests" as a stylized forest and bird habitat rising from the concrete sidewalk. The installation is composed of 14 birdhouses anchored to the streetscape on beams attached to barrels, which provide pedestrians-and birds-a sanctuary to experience the urban environment. The artist used materials found nearby and the installation includes structural beams from building renovation, retired wine barrels for seating, recycled plastic lunch trays, repurposed futon frames and reclaimed wood from old dresser drawers. By using reclaimed parts for material in a creative and visually compelling way to enhance the public realm, "Welcomed Guests" underscores how creativity and collaboration with individuals and community organizations can enhance the beauty, sustainability and livability of the City.

This Urban Art project and the others that follow reflect many facets of current and future areas of focus outlined in DOT’s strategic plan. Namely, "Welcomed Guests" embodies the agency’s ongoing work to recreate the public realm through its World Class Streets initiative and its efforts to recast the streets and sidewalks of New York City as inviting, attractive destinations in and of themselves.

For more information, visit Also, follow the Urban Art Program on Twitter-NYCDOT_UrbanArt-to get the latest on upcoming installations.