Text description provided by the architects. Located on the campus of Queensborough Community College in Queens, New York, the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archive consists of the renovation of a 6,000 square foot former print shop and loading dock in the campus Administration building, and a 2,000 square foot addition on the south edge of the site. The project provides a much needed home for the Center which was previously housed in the basement of the college library, and includes classrooms, work stations, offices, gallery spaces, and a library.
The main interior space of the addition is a 1,500 square foot gallery that can be reconfigured to accommodate receptions of up to 100 people. A custom steel storefront system containing a variety of glazing types encloses this space and creates contrasting levels of opacity within the different elevations. In addition, the mullions themselves take on contrasting geometries with the regular orthogonal grid of the majority of the volume providing the background for the angled and irregular pattern found on the eastern side. This glazed volume slides out from under a zinc paneled roof which wraps around the back of the gallery to bracket the two entrances to the building and provide a backdrop to the centerpiece of the project, a 1,500 square foot exterior terrace.
Clad in Jerusalem Stone, the terrace takes advantage of the existing hilly topography of the site to provide a dramatic vantage point from which to view the main entrance to the campus. The skewed lines and irregular divisions of the steel storefront are a graphic reference to the shattered windows of the Kristallnacht, an anti-Semitic pogrom that occurred in Germany and Austria in November of 1938 in which hundreds of synagogues were destroyed, thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked, and 30,000 Jews were interned in concentration camps.
This symbolism relates directly to the primary goal of the center, which is to provide programs and resources to educate present and future generations about the ramifications of prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism, and to encourage an awareness of the value of diversity in a pluralistic society.
Funding for the project was provided by the City University of New York, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, and a substantial contribution by the Kupferberg family.