about hlpc

The Historic Landmarks Preservation Center

NYC Historic District Marker
Upper East Side Historic District Map
Photo: Melissa Stutts

NYC Historic District Marker
Historic District Street Sign
Photo: Melissa Stutts
The Historic Landmarks Preservation Center addresses many aspects of the built environment in New York City, and beyond, by publishing books, articles and pamphlets. The HLPC also creates and produces television programs, organizes lectures, symposia, and traveling exhibitions that concern historic preservation and history, as well as presenting public art exhibitions.

The HLPC has created new programs such as: the street signs in all of the Historic Districts of New York City, as well as the porcelainized Historic District Markers and Historic District Map programs; and the Cultural Medallion program that documents notable occurrences, individuals, and other important aspects of New York City's cultural, economic, political, and social history, including celebrating the lives of individuals such as George Gershwin, Babe Ruth, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dawn Powell, Bernard Baruch, and Alfred Butts, the inventor of Scrabble. The Street Sign program, and the Cultural Medallion program have been adopted in other U.S. cities, and were also adopted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in collaboration with Parade Magazine, in May 2007.

About Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel - Chair - HLPC
Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
Photo: Joyce Ravid
Throughout her 40-year career, Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel has served as a leading voice on some of the defining urban issues of our time, including the preservation of the historic built environment of our country. She has brought unparalleled involvement to the arts, architecture, design and public policy through roles that have brought her from the writer's desk to The White House, and serves as a model for civic and cultural engagement.

Diamonstein-Spielvogel's career in the civic life of New York City began with her role as the first Director of Cultural Affairs in 1966. After breaking down walls in bringing, in 1967, the first public art to Bryant Park, created by sculptor Tony Smith, and the first public performance to Central Park by the Metropolitan Opera, Diamonstein-Spielvogel dedicated herself to the preservation and enhancement of New York City's cultural life, by serving as the longest-term Commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, spanning four mayoral administrations from 1972 to 1987. She then served as the Chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Foundation from 1987 to 1995, where she created and underwrote the placement of Historic District street signs, descriptive markers, and maps in each of New York's then 84 Historic Districts, which have since become models for similar initiatives throughout the United States.

Since 1995, she has served as Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center. In addition to her extensive preservation work and advocacy, Diamonstein-Spielvogel's involvement with cultural affairs, both on a local and national level, continued through appointments by President Reagan to the Board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and her role as Chair of the Subcommittee, which commissioned the Art for the Public Spaces in the museum; a member of the Art Commission of New York City; and as a member of the New York City Commission of Cultural Affairs for more than a decade. In 1996, she was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which advises on matters of design affecting the appearance of Washington, D.C., in particular, the architecture of public buildings, parks, and memorials. In 2002, she was the first woman to be elected as Vice Chair of the Commission in its century-long history.

Diamonstein-Spielvogel earned her doctorate with high honors from New York University, and received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art, in 1990, and from Longwood University in Virginia, in 1996. In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from Pratt Institute in New York City. She has shared her combined experience and scholarship about art, architecture, photography, crafts, design, and public policy through the authorship of nineteen books. This included her groundbreaking work as a Fellow of the Architectural League, Collaboration: Artists and Architects, subsequently the subject of a significant museum exhibition, which resuscitated a long moribund relationship.

Her reach extends into other media as well, where she has complemented her rich experience with involvement as interviewer/producer for seven television series about the arts, architecture, design, crafts, and public policy for the Arts & Entertainment Network, and many other programs for other national networks, such as CBS and NBC. Many of her television interviews were shown at the Leo Castelli Gallery, and over a hundred of her interviews are now available on iTunes U, and YouTube having been digitized by the Spielvogel–Diamonstein Video Archives at Duke University. She is the curator of seven international museum exhibitions, each based on one of her books. The Landmarks of New York IV, in common with five of her other books, is also the basis of an exhibition. LONY IV was circulated to 82 countries on 5 continents, in an unprecedented tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. LONY V, lished in September 2011, will be accompanied by an exhibition planned to travel throughout the cities and counties throughout New York State. She is also the author of dozens of magazine and newspaper articles.

Throughout her career, Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been involved in board service for national and local institutions and organizations. These include current appointments to the Fresh Air Fund; the Friends of The High Line; the New York State Historic Archives Partnership Trust; the Drawing Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Acquisitions Committee of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; to the Board of the Museum of Modern Art, as the Representative of the Speaker of the New York City Council; MAS; the Central Park Conservancy; BAM; P.E.N.; and national groups, such as the American Council on the Arts; Museum of African Art; the Bicentennial Commission; and the White House Endowment Fund.

For her lifelong dedication to community improvement and cultural affairs, Diamonstein-Spielvogel has received numerous awards. In 1994 she was the first woman to be honored with the Pratt Institute Founder's Award, and in 1995 was awarded the annual Visionary in the Arts' Award from the Museum of Contemporary Crafts/The Museum of Arts and Design in New York. In 1998, she was the recipient of the Ralph Menapace Award of the Upper East Side Historic District. She also received the first Miami Beach Art Deco Preservation Award; was the first woman to be elected, in 2001, as an honorary member of PEN-Slovakia, and in 2003, received the Gen. Milan R. Stefanik Award for contributing to the advancement of public knowledge about the Slovak nation and people. In 2005, she was named an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects, and was awarded the Humanitarian Award of the Jewish Women's Foundation in New York. In 2007, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Partners For Livable Places in Washington, D.C. In 2008, together with Murakami and Julian Schnabel, she was named a "Legend" by Pratt Institute. In 2010 she was given a lifetime achievement award by the Citizens Committee of New York. In October 2010, Duke University will initiate the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Filmmaker Series to address significant contemporary topics of social, political, economic, and cultural urgency from a global perspective. In November, 2010, President Barack Obama named her a Commissioner of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which has responsibilities related to the design, construction, and maintenance of military cemeteries and memorials, primarily outside the continential United States. Also in 2010, she was appointed as member of the Advisory Council for the Trust for the National Mall in Washington D.C. She is married to the leading international business executive, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic, Carl Spielvogel.

From her first job, as a White House Assistant, where she was a prime force in creating the first, and only, White House Festival of the Arts, as well as being deeply involved in the creation of the White House Fellows and the Presidential Scholars program, which continue to this day; to serving as the first Director of Cultural Affairs of New York City; she has served as a Member of the NYC Cultural Affairs Commission, where she was Chair/Founder of the Mayor's Awards of Arts and Culture; to her current role as the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center and the Vice Chair of the N.Y. State Council on the Arts, and Chair of the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Law; and through her many different public and behind the scene roles as idea-person and one-person job placement agency, Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been a powerful force in shaping the direction of preservation and culture, not only in New York, where her involvement is felt in every corner of the city, but on the national and international scene, as well.
(Excerpted from her Pratt Institute Awards Biography).