in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

designed by BIG-bjarke ingels group, ‘the smile’ is a mixed-use residential development in new york that includes affordable housing units alongside market rate rentals. located in manhattan’s east harlem neighborhood, the building has begun to welcome its first residents. the project responds to the city’s 1916 zoning resolution, which enforced the construction of ‘stepped façade’ towers in order to provide the streets with sufficient light and air. BIG’s design curves inwards as it rises upwards to bring daylight into the residential streets while enlivening the vibrant neighborhood.

harlem smile bjarke ingels
all images by thomas loof and pernille loof

 

 

‘the façade of the smile drapes gently between the building’s two neighbors and leans inward to allow sunlight and air to reach the street, thus fulfilling the century old set-back requirements in a new way,’ explains bjarke ingels, founder and creative director, BIG-bjarke ingels group. ‘like a good neighbor, it fits into the existing neighborhood, feeding from the community’s energy to add new sparks to the community of east harlem.’

harlem smile bjarke ingels

 

 

conceived as a three pronged ‘Y’ structure stretching between 125th and 126th streets, the development transforms from a traditional block at street level to one side cantilevering over an existing commercial building. along 126th street, the building’s façade gently slopes inwards, deviating from the hard, linear street edge in an elegant gesture and appropriately appearing as a smile from above. in turn, the curve allows the building form to be contained within the allowable zoning envelope, while giving the residential street more access to direct sunlight.

harlem smile bjarke ingels

 

 

the architects explain that the façade is inspired by the textured surface of the moon, blending with the black and red brick of the other buildings in the neighborhood. meanwhile, the windows mimic the same shape of those that characterize harlem. the interlocking checkerboard pattern façade panel system allows for floor-to-ceiling windows in each unit, creating views in all directions. the individual panels used have been configured so that each element reflects the sky and light slightly differently, resulting in varying shades of black.

harlem smile bjarke ingels

 

 

‘the smile’ — which is BIG’s first collaboration with blumenfeld development group (BDG) — has 233 units, with one third of the apartments reserved for affordable housing. ‘we are thrilled to bring the smile, a beautiful and contextually-inspired building with a one-of-a-kind amenity offering, to the heart of harlem,’ says david blumenfeld, principal, blumenfeld development group. ‘as an active builder in harlem since the early 1990s, we are excited to welcome residents to this thriving and historic neighborhood and continue our firm’s commitment to investing in the surrounding community.’

harlem smile bjarke ingels

 

 

upon entering the building, residents are greeted with vibrant colors that have been applied to the walls, herringbone floors, elevators, and even the mailboxes. all units have been designed with a minimal palette of warm wooden interiors. on the north side of the building, units overlooking the bronx highlight raw, industrial materials with exposed concrete ceilings and columns. meanwhile, finishes like exposed steel trusses on the south side units and stainless-steel cabinets create a cohesive experience throughout the residence.

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

 

 

collective spaces include a fitness center, lounge, and a co-working space that overlook a six-story gallery, bringing in natural daylight. in the lounge, a kitchen and pantry allow for catering events or cooking classes, while workstations invite individuals and groups to work from home. BIG and artemide’s alphabet lights have been used throughout, subtly referencing the building’s external form. in addition, a wet spa of marble penny tiles has been designed with the same curves as the building.

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

 

 

rooftop amenities include four different pools, lounge, and deck spaces surrounded by landscape features that shape social areas for various types of gatherings. by including a pool for warmer months, and an additional three whirlpools for the cooler season, the rooftop is functional year-round. residents can enjoy barbecues and dining spaces, as well as a large screening area for outdoor movies and other community events — all with views towards central park and the manhattan skyline.

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

 

 

‘it feels great to be building in the middle of the city, right in the heart of a thriving community with such an important history,’ explains thomas christoffersen, partner-in-charge, BIG-bjarke ingels group. ‘our team of collaborators have worked closely with us every step of the way to achieve the vision we dreamt up together, and to ensure the smile becomes a significant contribution to this neighborhood.’

bjarke-ingels-group-BIG-smile-residences-harlem-new-york-designboom-1800b

 

elsewhere in new york, BIG has completed ‘VIA 57 west’, a hybrid between the european perimeter block and a traditional manhattan high-rise, and is currently working on ‘the XI’, two residential towers near the high line. see more projects by bjarke ingels group on designboom here.

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

in harlem, 'the smile' by bjarke ingels group welcomes its first residents

 

 

 

project info:

 

name: the smile
location: new york city, NY, USA
program: commercial
status: almost completed
size: 26,000 sqm / 279,861 sqf
project type: commission
client: blumenfeld development group
collaborators: ZDG, thornton tomasetti, cosentini associates, milrose consultants, eckersley o’callaghan, langan, van deusen associates, aquatectonic lothrop associates LLP, steven winter associates, jaffe holden, robert schwartz and associates, fox rothschild, lerch bates

 

BIG project team —
partners-in-charge: bjarke ingels, thomas christoffersen, beat schenk, kai-uwe bergmann
project leaders: michelle stromsta, jennifer ng, lucio santos, elena bresciani, everald colas
project leader, interiors: francesca portesine, jennifer ng, rita sio, jose jimenez
team: adrien mans, agne rapkeviciute, annette miller, ava nourbaran, ben caldwell, benjamin dinapoli, daniele pronesti, deborah campbell, douglass alligood, eva maria mikkelsen, gabriel hernandez solano, iannis kandyliaris, jan leenknegt, jennifer phan, jennifer wood, jeremy babel, jialin yuan, john kim, julie kaufman, julien beauchamp-roy, kurt nieminen, lina bondarenko, mark rakhmanov, meli harvey, quentin stanton, sarah habib, shu zhao, taylor fulton, terrence chew, terry lallak, valentina mele, wells barber, wojciech swarowski, yaziel juarbe, yoanna shivarova

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ARCHITECTURE IN NEW YORK (476)

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