located in new york’s diverse harlem neighborhood, ‘sugar hill’ is a mixed-use development providing affordable housing alongside public programs such as early educational facilities and a recently opened children’s museum. designed by british architect david adjaye, the scheme overlooks the adjacent harlem river, and offers views across the urban landscape of upper manhattan.

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the scheme is located in new york’s diverse harlem neighborhood
image © ed reeve | main image © wade zimmerman

 

 

in january 2008, with generous philanthropic support, non-profit developers broadway housing communities (BHC) acquired a large site on the northern boundary of west harlem’s historic sugar hill district — an area characterized by high poverty rates, overcrowded housing, and low educational performance. in the coming years, adjaye associates worked closely with both BHC and the local community to develop a scheme that would provide long-term solutions to the problems associated with the district.

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the mixed-use development provides affordable residential accommodation
image © wade zimmerman

 

 

the result is a towering 13-storey structure, clad with pre-cast concrete that elegantly complements the neighboring gothic revival row-houses. the textured slab building shifts back at its ninth floor, creating an outdoor terrace on its northern elevation as well as a subtle cantilever to the south. decorative roses of various sizes are imprinted on the building’s graphite tinted façade, creating an ornamental effect that allows the building to shimmer throughout the day.

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
unusually, the complex also offers a public program
image © ed reeve

 

 

the 17,000 square foot children’s museum of art and storytelling sits at the base of the building, offering year-round art exhibitions, storytelling series and art-making workshops. museum programs are designed to nurture the curiosity and creative spirit of children ages 3 to 8, building the language, literacy and critical thinking skills that lead to lifelong learning.

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the 13-storey structure is clad with pre-cast concrete panels
image © ed reeve

 

 

I am very excited to see the sugar hill museum open to the public this week,’ commented david adjaye. ‘it represents the completion of this building and captures the spirit of the project’s aspiration to reinvent the social housing model. offering a holistic approach to the needs of the sugar hill community, the building has an integrated cultural program, which places childhood development and art at its center. I am thrilled to see this wonderful first exhibition illuminate not only the galleries but the whole neighborhood. this is the moment when the building really comes to life.

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the textured building shifts back at its ninth floor, creating an outdoor terrace
image © ed reeve

 

 

a childhood education center is located on the level above, while BHC’s office are situated on the ninth floor. access to each area of the development is provided from the landscaped public plaza on st nicholas avenue. standing as a gateway to the wider sugar hill district, offset fenestration frames central park and one world trade center to the south, as well as the neighboring hudson and harlem rivers. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
roses of various sizes are imprinted on the building’s graphite tinted façade
image © wade zimmerman

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
access to each area of the development is provided from a landscaped public plaza
image © wade zimmerman

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
a children’s museum of art and storytelling sits at the base of the building
image © ed reeve

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the institution offers year-round art exhibitions
image © wade zimmerman

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the project was realized in close collaboration with non-profit developers broadway housing communities
image © wade zimmerman

david adjaye sugar hill development harlem new york designboom
the building stands as a gateway to the wider sugar hill district
image © wade zimmerman

 

 

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