Eric MacFarlane is the First Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department of Design and Construction, a department with which he has worked since it was founded in 1996. MacFarlane is originally from Cap-Haïtien, though his last name may lead you to believe otherwise. His father’s family is originally Jamaican and came to Haiti during the first American occupation of Haiti in early twentieth century. MacFarlane’s father settled in Haiti, became a naturalized citizen and married into a Haitian family. The family moved to New York City in the 1960’s where MacFarlane completed high school. It was there, in an English class, that he met his wife Marie-Josée, whose family had also immigrated during the same period of time to the United States.
Eric MacFarlane says that he has always been interested in engineering. Family members worked in engineering and construction, both of which fascinated him from an early age. Currently a New York State licensed Professional Engineer, he received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the City College of New York, and a Master of Science, Civil Engineering degree from Polytechnic Institute of New York (NYU-Poly). Initially, he worked in the private sector, for design consulting firms and for Con Edison, but he eventually made the switch to public works projects – a move that he has not regretted. For over thirty years now, he has worked for the city of New York, first at the Department of Environmental Protection, and then at his current department. He credits his success as First Deputy Commissioner with his technical background and competence in management.
As First Deputy Commissioner, he oversees a division with a 5-year capital plan portfolio of over 500 design and construction projects estimated at $6 billion, and manages a technical staff numbering well over 500 employees. This includes management of over 100 active construction contracts Citywide with a combined bid value of over $4 billion. MacFarlane’s team is responsible for the design and construction of Coastal Resiliency Projects, Roadway, Sewer, Water Main, Pedestrian Ramps, Sidewalk and Public Building Projects in all five boroughs of New York City. Currently, they have over one hundred projects in various stages of completion. Despite his years of experience, he still finds his work immensely challenging. He chuckles when he talks about how, intellectually, everyone understands that these projects need to get done for the good of our City, but they grumble about how long they take – a facet that is inevitable in a dense grid like New York. Regardless, MacFarlane finds his work very rewarding. He names Columbus Circle, which was renovated under his watch, as a source of pride.
Mr. MacFarlane enjoys meeting other Haitian professionals and staying abreast of their strides. He also supports the idea of using the organization as a platform to interest young Haitians in the field of engineering. He has never regretted the decision to become an engineer, and says, “Now is the time to think about getting into engineering. Once the economy picks up, infrastructure will be key.”