Two years ago, we featured David Adjaye’s affordable housing project for Harlem which was designed as a way to integrate urban and cultural offerings alongside 120+ units of affordable housing. Construction began on the building yesterday, and was celebrated by a ceremony attended by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Sugar Hill represents a new social engagement, which is at the heart of my practice. It is a symbol of regeneration for the community of Harlem that will integrate housing with a cultural and educational element – this is a real reinvention of the traditional model and I am thrilled to see the project break ground,” explained Adjaye.
More about the project after the break.
The strength of the project lies in the fact that this is more than just a residential project. An early education center and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling occupy the base of the dark volume, as a way to create a urban complex of mixed programs to benefit the residents and those in the community.
The addition of such programs is the result of the BHC’s experience in providing solutions to strengthen communities by serving children and families in deep generational poverty. In this area of Harlem, 70% of children are born into poverty, and the BHC has found that exposing children to education, in particular, that of cultural arts, enriches and sustains a residential community.
With the inclusion of the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling (the nation’s highest ranking recipient of 2012 ArtPlace Grants), it is hopeful that the children and families occupying this housing project will enjoy the benefits of the arts and the young children’s creative development with by strengthened and encouraged.
Regarding the building’s aesthetic, Adjaye Associates worked closely with the Broadway Housing Communities to ensure the design is tied to its history, practical and aesthetic requirements, while complementing its surrounding environment of Gothic revival row-houses.
The 13-storey scheme steps back at the ninth floor to create a 10ft terrace and cantilever on opposite sides. The dark cladding is achieved with rose embossed pre-cast panels, which are inexpensive while achieving a textured, ornamental effect. Saw-toothed fenestration fans across both façades, referencing bay windows that are a common feature of the area. These windows also frame views of the Hudson River and the new Yankee Stadium. Terraces are placed on the roof, third and ninth floors.
The Sugar Hill development is expected to create 300 construction jobs and about 100 permanent jobs upon completion.