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City’s privately owned public spaces get new, ‘almost-dancing’ logo

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The “Have a Seat” graphic beat some 600 entries in a design competition

This privately owned public space at 590 Madison Avenue is one of some 550 across the city.
UIG via Getty Images

A local graphic designer has reinvented the logo inviting New Yorkers into the city’s privately owned public spaces (POPS), beating 607 entries in an international design competition.

The emblem, dubbed “Have a Seat,” was created by New York City-based graphic designer Emma Reed, and is slated to replace POPS signage at the more than 550 privately owned plazas, atriums, and green spaces across the city. It features a trio of white chairs arranged on a black background.

“We challenged folks around the globe to design a logo for New York City’s beloved POPS—and the public responded with amazing creativity,” said Marisa Lago, the director of the Department of City Planning (DCP). “There were so many incredible designs that it was hard to choose. But, the happy, almost-dancing, chairs of this logo bring a smile to your face, and say ‘Welcome!’”

The “Have a Seat” logo was designed by New York City-based graphic designer Emma Reed.
Department of City Planning

The POPS program is geared toward creating a place of respite for passersby in some of the densest parts of the city, but few New Yorkers, let alone tourists, are aware that those spaces are publicly accessible. To help fix that, a design competition was launched in January with entries pouring in from nearly 60 countries across the globe.

A seven-person panel, along with some 17,000 votes, selected three finalists and two notable mentions. Lago picked “Have a Seat” from the top three designs. Reed, who already received $2,000 as a finalist, will receive another $2,000 in prize money.

DCP expects to introduce a zoning text amendment this week requiring developers post signs with the new logo, according to the agency. New Yorkers will begin to see the chairs peppered across the city come early 2020, but all POPS will be required to post the new logo and information about the spaces—including how to lodge a complaint about a POPS—by mid-2021, according to DCP.

Reed, who is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse University, was inspired to submit a design after spending many of her lunch hours in a lower Manhattan POPS.

Currently, the city boasts 3.8 million square feet of POPS, which are created when developers are granted extra floor area or special waivers for their buildings. Landlords are required to meet certain standards such as providing seating, incorporating greenery, and ensuring those spaces are visible to the public. Certain POPS are beside for-profit eateries, but patronizing them isn’t necessary to visit those spaces.

City planning officials have worked to raise awareness about POPS with a map of their locations. The logo competition, launched in partnership with Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space and the Municipal Arts Society, was the latest effort to raise the spaces profile. Both measures are reactions to audits performed by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office that found an alarming number of POPS to be noncompliant with city rules.