caples jefferson architects PC design weeksville heritage center caples jefferson architects PC design weeksville heritage center
oct 16, 2013

caples jefferson architects PC design weeksville heritage center

caples jefferson architects PC design weeksville heritage center
image ©  nic lehoux
all images courtesy of caples jefferson architects PC




following a strong architectural language of repetition, movement, rhythm, and proportion the ‘weeksville heritage center’ designed by american firm caples jefferson architects PC serves as a gateway to a 19th century african-american freedman’s settlement. the sustainably built complex is located in brooklyn, new york and features a new two-story, 23,000 sq ft building and 41,000 sq ft of landscape that redefines the site’s context. based on the concept of modern african riffs, the simple forms, strip windows, and glass passageways are enriched by natural light adding shadows, varying moods, and ever-changing perspectives.


‘the riffs are embedded in construction, in structural elements, such as the joints in paving and stone, in the choice of colors and materials, and in the details like the fence posts and the frit in the sunshading glass. the modern syntax and african riffs, although independent from each other, harmonize when experienced as an entirety.’  explain the architects.



view from pathway connecting the historic houses to new structure
image ©  nic lehoux



in the 1960’s, four remaining buildings from this brooklyn settlement were rediscovered. through 40 years of impassioned community support, the site eventually grew to serve as a focal african-american heritage site. weeksville heritage center is the latest manifestation of that history coming alive. the new gateway to the historic houses helps to display remnants of the 19th century free african american community – with state-of-the-art exhibition, performance and educational facilities, as well as providing a green oasis for visitors and the local community. the main lobby includes introductory exhibits and leads to a gallery, a lecture and performance space for 200, classrooms and a library resource center for visiting scholars.



view of center from buffalo avenue
image ©  nic lehoux



the new structure is targeting a gold rating under LEED 2.1. with its footprint occupying only about one-fifth of the project site, allowing the major portion of the site to become open green space. in keeping with the overall design intention to create an open, accessible community space, all interior spaces are flooded with daylight, providing a multiplicity of views of the historic site and the surrounding neighborhood.



view through entrance lobby from buffalo avenue
image ©  nic lehoux



new center with view of historic houses
image ©  nic lehoux



site egress and office wing viewed from courtyard
image ©  nic lehoux



performance wing, glass link lobby, and office wing viewed from street
image ©  nic lehoux



view of office wing and performance room (right)
image ©  nic lehoux



glass link interior
image ©  nic lehoux



performance room interior
image ©  nic lehoux



aerial view of site in city context
image © julian olivas



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