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Mark Chambers Honored with Director’s Award at 20th National Design Awards Gala

New Climate Action Award Announced for 2020


Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum held its 20th annual National Design Awards Gala in New York City last evening, honoring design excellence and innovation in 12 categories. The Director’s Award, which was revealed live, was presented to Mark Chambers, director of sustainability for the City of New York. This year’s gala included the announcement of the Climate Action Award, a new category beginning in 2020, which will recognize a design project for its significant contributions to addressing the global climate crisis.

The evening honored all of the 2019 National Design Award winners: Susan Kare, Lifetime Achievement; Patricia Moore, Design Mind; MIT D-Lab, Corporate & Institutional Achievement; Thomas Phifer, Architecture Design; Tobias Frere-Jones, Communication Design; Derek Lam, Fashion Design; Ivan Poupyrev, Interaction Design; IwamotoScott Architecture, Interior Design; SCAPE, Landscape Architecture; Tinker Hatfield, Product Design; and Open Style Lab, Emerging Designer. The recipients of these juried National Design Awards were previously announced.

Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, presented the Director’s Award to Chambers. As director of sustainability for the City of New York, Chambers leads the design and development of policies and programs to enable a resilient, zero-carbon built environment and a fair, healthy future for all 8.6 million residents of the largest city in the United States. This future vision is laid out in the citywide strategic plan, OneNYC 2050. In 2019, Chambers spearheaded the world’s first mandated cap on greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings, which will usher in an era of high performance design throughout New York City to fight climate change. Previously, Chambers served as the Director of Sustainability and Energy for Washington, D.C., where he helped execute Washington’s Sustainable DC strategic plan and negotiated the nation’s largest municipal wind power purchase agreement at the time.

“Mark is paving the path toward a greener future by creating essential awareness of both the footprint we have as a big city, and the impact New York City can have as a leader and a champion of a vibrant and inclusive future for the planet,” Baumann said. “His life work is perfectly aligned with Cooper Hewitt’s core belief that design has the power to address humanity’s challenges, from the everyday to the monumental. I am absolutely delighted to honor Mark with this year’s Director’s Award.”

Chambers joins a distinguished group of previous Director’s Award winners, including Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation; Susan S. Szenasy, director of design innovation, former publisher and editor in chief of Metropolis (2017); Make It Right, a nonprofit organization, founded by Brad Pitt in 2007, that builds homes, buildings and communities for people in need (2016); and Jack Lenor Larsen, an internationally renowned textile designer, author and collector (2015).

National Design Awards is made possible by generous support from Target.
Additional support is provided by Design Within Reach, Facebook and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
National Design Award trophies are created by The Corning Museum of Glass. is powered by Behance, part of Adobe Inc.

About the National Design Awards

Launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the annual awards recognize design in various disciplines as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world.

The gala serves as the centerpiece of National Design Week, which features a series of programs for all audiences led by award winners, including hands-on workshops, lighting design talks, in-gallery experiences, a design career fair and educator open house. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the National Design Awards, Target will offer free admission to visitors of Cooper Hewitt through Oct. 19, making design accessible to all.

About Cooper Hewitt

Cooper Hewitt is America’s design museum. Inclusive, innovative and experimental, the museum’s dynamic exhibitions, education programs, master’s program, publications and online resources inspire, educate and empower people through design. An integral part of the Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum, education and research complex—Cooper Hewitt is located on New York City’s Museum Mile in the historic, landmark Carnegie Mansion. Steward of one of the world’s most diverse and comprehensive design collections—over 210,000 objects that range from an ancient Egyptian faience cup dating to about 1100 BC to contemporary 3-D-printed objects and digital code—Cooper Hewitt welcomes everyone to discover the importance of design and its power to change the world. Cooper Hewitt knits digital into experiences to enhance ideas, extend reach beyond museum walls and enable greater access, personalization, experimentation and connection. The museum is fully accessible.

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