DDC HERRC / Asylum Center Team Receives Mayor’s Excellence On Customer Service Award

Published on October 13, 2023, 1:22 pm
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Commissioner Thomas Foley of The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced today that the agency’s 12-person team that has been evaluating potential sites for new asylum centers, and overseeing construction at several of the approved sites, were honored this week with the Mayor’s 2023 Excellence in Customer Service Award. The award is for “individuals and teams [that] exemplified the City’s customer service values of respect, timeliness and quality and were chosen to represent the very best in customer service from their respective agencies.”

Image caption: (left to right) Fatima Murillo, Kristina Kesler, Austen Ariniello, James Hancock, Elizabeth Lowery, Kenia Peralta and Joseph Castaneda of DDC’s asylum center team. Other team members not pictured include John Coppola, Frank Kugler, Mandy LeBoeuf, Emil Oprea and Wasmiya Tan

“DDC staff have performed tirelessly, taking a leading role in assessing potential asylum center sites as well as managing construction at City-owned sites and overseeing private and City construction teams at sites not owned by the City,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley. “Whether it’s been 9/11, after Sandy or during the Covid-19 pandemic, DDC staff have consistently performed well during times of crisis and I’m very proud that they’re doing it again now. DDC remains ready to build whatever facilities the City needs to overcome future challenges.”

DDC staff have performed 46 site assessments for the asylum center program to-date. Each assessment takes approximately three days, as a team including architects, engineers and construction managers examine each site for potential capacity, for safety and code compliance and for fire alarms and fire exit routes. They also check a building’s mechanical, electric and water/sewer systems, its elevators and other factors required to safely house asylum seekers.

DDC has also worked at ten asylum centers that have been built or are now in construction, including sites such as Randall’s Island. At City-owned sites, DDC mobilizes its on-call designers and construction managers and then uses a Construction Manager-Build (CM-Build) contract to complete work more quickly, as opposed to the usual lowest bidder contracting process.

For sites not owned by the City, and which the City leases, DDC teams determine layouts for bed placement and are present at the site providing oversight of the landlord’s and City’s construction teams in order to meet the aggressive schedules. DDC staff also help expedite needed approvals from agencies such as DOB and FDNY and ensure that any critical safety issues are addressed immediately. Using this system, humanitarian center site construction has in several cases been completed in two weeks or less.

The 12 members of DDC’s asylum center team are:

  • Austen Ariniello;
  • Joseph Castaneda;
  • John Coppola;
  • James Hancock;
  • Kristina Kessler;
  • Frank Kugler;
  • Mandy LeBoeuf;
  • Elizabeth Lowery;
  • Fatima Murillo;
  • Emil Oprea;
  • Kenia Peralta;
  • Wasmiya Tan.

The team’s accomplishments continue DDC’s history of responding for the City during times of crisis. During the CoViD-19 pandemic, DDC was able to use alternative construction management methods normally not available to City agencies to build projects such as a 470-bed field hospital in Queens in 11 days and three large CoViD-19 Centers of Excellence for the City’s public hospital system in less than seven months. DDC also built CoViD testing centers, vaccination sites and mobile testing trucks and upgraded several DOHMH laboratories to handle CoViD-19 testing.


About the NYC Department of Design & Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $24 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects.

For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.


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