The 27th Bard Awards for Excellence in Architecture Community
By Lewis Davis, FAIA
The following four projects, three of which are for housing in the Bronx and one of which deals with education in 4 of the 5 boroughs are clear examples of how modest approaches to a problem can realize significant results. None of these projects had the luxuries of large budgets or high visibility, yet the architects, in collaboration with their clients, have brought or returned to the community the much needed necessities of shelter and learning.
At 500 Southern Boulevard, the New York City Housing Authority rehabilitated a 1928 new law tenement into homes for over a hundred families, whose ownership of their units will be reinforced by the community and commercial facilities incorporated into the design.
The Anderson Houses, designed by Grasso, Menziuso, are a group of seven buildings in the Highbridge section of the Bronx which have been reclaimed to provide affordable housing and to serve as a model in the resurgence of this once proud and prospering neighborhood. Outfitted with new systems, kitchens and bathrooms and made completely accessible, these apanments give the residents the advantages of modern apartment conveniences along with the charm and size of older buildings.
Melrose Village designed by Magnusson Architects and constructed on vacant lots in the South Bronx, with the use of modular and prefabricated technology by a Iocally-based minority builder, has provided opportunities as well as Iow-cost housing. The incorporation of rental units along with distinctive facades of paired homes links these houses with the traditional townhouse model common in the outer boroughs, while creating a lovely street elevation which breathes life into a once blighted neighborhood. The Library Power Project is an ambitious project to create or rejuvenate 100 libraries in elementary schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn. Queens and Manhattan, designed by Berke & McWhorter Architects and funded by the DeWitt Wallace Foundation – Reader’s Digest Fund. Through the use of simple means, and with the assistance of parents, teachers and Board of Education crews, bright, colorful and comfortable reading rooms have been made as architecturally distinct spaces within the schools. The sense of place thus developed encourages the use and enjoyment of books, and provides a setting as well for faculty meetings and PTA meetings. They recall, on a small scale, the Carnegie libraries built earlier in this century, by the focus and sense of pride which they endow to their respective communities.