the louis armstrong center opens in queens as a tribute to the jazz icon

the louis armstrong center opens in queens as a tribute to the jazz icon

celebrating the Legacy of louis armstrong

 

In Queens, New York, the Louis Armstrong Center opens as an homage to the legendary jazz musician. The project can be discovered among residential streets of Corona — a neighborhood that’s unassuming but meaningful as it’s where the New Orleans-born artist chose to call home in 1943, and where he died in 1971. It is located directly across the street from the Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM), and serves as a visitor center and the final piece of the campus dedicated to preserving the cultural, historical, and humanitarian legacy of the iconic musician. The building was designed by locally-based architecture studio Caples Jefferson Architects, and can be recognized at once by its luminous, curving facade.

louis armstrong center queens
image © Albert Vecerka/Esto 

 

 

a modern extension for the neighboring house museum

 

Legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong and his wife Lucille purchased their house in Corona, Queens, where the new center is sited, at a time when the neighborhood was one of the few places in the country where a Black couple could buy real estate. The musician was already a world-renowned figure, and found solace and a permanent home in Corona. After his passing, Lucille wished to transform their home into a museum honoring her husband’s legacy. This dream was realized and the Louis Armstrong House Museum opened its doors to the public in 2003.

Today, the LAHM sustains and promotes Armstrong’s cultural, historical, and humanitarian legacy through preserving the house and grounds, collecting archival materials, and engaging with contemporary artists to celebrate his contributions to music and culture. To expand the capacity of the modest house museum, the team at Caples Jefferson Architects designed the Louis Armstrong Center across the street from the original house. This new building includes an exhibit area, a live jazz room, offices, and archives that house thousands of objects and recordings, reflecting Armstrong’s dedication to documenting his own career.

louis armstrong center queens
the Louis Armstrong Center in Queens honors the jazz artist and his lasting impact | image © Albert Vecerka/Esto

 

 

the brass facade by caples jefferson architects

 

In the center of a block characterized by modest two-story homes, the Louis Armstrong Center was designed to simultaneously blend into its surroundings and stand out as a glowing beacon to celebrate the man and his music. The design embraces Armstrong’s values, his love for lyricism, and the influence of jazz on his life.

Caples Jefferson Architects’ design for the Louis Armstrong Center incorporates several key elements to capture the essence of Armstrong’s life and music. The curving front wall and canopy provide a unique visual identity, creating an urban forecourt that welcomes visitors and defines the building within its neighborhood. The faceted flat-glass facade, adorned with metal fins, creates the illusion of curvature and features a layer of woven brass mesh. By day, the mesh reflects the neighborhood, and at night, it transforms into a beacon, illuminating evening performances.

louis armstrong center queens
the new building is across the street from the Louis Armstrong House Museum | image © Nic Lehoux

 

 

The building’s design takes inspiration from the objects and colors that surrounded Louis Armstrong. Brass, a prominent material in his instruments, is integrated into the woven fabric within the glass, the underside of the canopy, and the incipits on the paired interior columns. The curving architecture reflects both the raw energy of jazz and the lyrical beauty of Armstrong’s work. Natural light plays a crucial role in the building’s interior design, entering exhibit spaces and research rooms. The Jazz Room, with its tilted roof and green rooftop, immerses visitors in a deep-red and mahogany music space that evokes the nightclubs where Armstrong originated much of his sound.

The Louis Armstrong Center houses a vast archival collection of recordings, manuscripts, and personal artifacts on its second floor. It also includes a reading room for visiting researchers and offices for museum staff. The building is environmentally conscious, with green roofing and ecologically sensitive materials, designed to achieve a LEED-Silver rating.

louis armstrong center queens
a curving front wall and canopy create a recognizable visual identity | image © Nic Lehoux the louis armstrong center opens in queens as a tribute to the jazz icon
visitors are invited to explore the artist’s music, heritage, and cultural impact | image © Albert Vecerka/Esto

caples-jefferson-architects-louis-armstrong-center-corona-queens-new-york-designboom-06a

visitors experience Louis Armstrong’s music through interactive exhibits and live performances | image © Albert Vecerka/Esto

the louis armstrong center opens in queens as a tribute to the jazz icon
the architecture is inspired by the artist’s life, incorporating elements like brass mesh | image © Albert Vecerka/Esto

caples-jefferson-architects-louis-armstrong-center-corona-queens-new-york-designboom-08a

the luminous building is a glowing beacon on the residential block | image © Albert Vecerka/Esto

 

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image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Albert Vecerka/Esto
image © Albert Vecerka/Esto
image © Albert Vecerka/Esto
image © Albert Vecerka/Esto
image © Nic Lehoux
image © Nic Lehoux

project info:

 

project title: Louis Armstrong Center

architecture: Caples Jefferson Architects | @capjeffarch

location: Corona, Queens, New York

completion: June 2023

photography: © Nic Lehoux@nic.lehouxAlbert Vecerka/Esto | @albertvecerka

 

clients: Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), City University of New York (CUNY), Queens College | @queenscollegeofficial, Louis Armstrong House Museum | @louisarmstronghouse

design principals: Everardo Jefferson, Sara Caples
project architect: Michael Behrman
structural engineer: Severud Associates
MEP/FP/ telecomm engineer: WSP
lighting design, acoustics, A/V: Arup
interior designer: Caples Jefferson Architects
contractor: Paul J. Scariano, Inc.
construction manager: Hill International
sustainable design: Steven Winter Associates

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