SARANY Council Honors Three MAP Projects
Earlier this month, MAP received honors for three projects at the Society of American Registered Architects New York Council (SARANY) Awards dinner. This event, which highlighted some of the most well-known and important new architecture in New York, provided our firm, as well as a few others, an opportunity to showcase unique and exceptional affordable housing. Platforms like these are critical as we seek to elevate design for social good and improve the quality of housing for those who need it most.
MAP’s three winning projects are St. Augustine Terrace, MLK Plaza and The Mill at Middletown:
St. Augustine Terrace
Located in the Bronx on the site of a former church, this new 112-unit, LEED Gold building is a mix of supportive and affordable housing serving very low-income residents. The design was inspired by the notion that a house of worship is a beacon of light in its community. From that idea came 13 floors of large, fully glazed elevator lobbies which provide spectacular views by day and then become a glowing tower by night.
The placement of this south facing feature was the most inclusive way to share the city vista, and at the same time it gives light to the adjacent park in the evening.
Rock formations uncovered during construction were incorporated into the landscape at the front of the property providing a visual association with the park and a connection to the area’s natural environment. They also supply an organic complement to the straight lines and right angles of the building. Just beyond the entry, decking extends out over the rocks to a look-out point, a spot for residents and visitors to enjoy as the topography slopes downward toward the west revealing more views. The bell and stones from the original church which are placed throughout the landscaping, celebrate the site’s history and create yet another link to the neighborhood.
The resiliency and sustainability measures, quality building materials, broadly accessible panoramas, evening light provided to the nearby park and street corners, and elements that tie to the history of the place, all exemplify the inclusivity and care that underlies this work. It shows what affordable housing can be, both for the community of residents within its walls and those in the surrounding neighborhood.
This 13-story affordable housing development in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx offers 167 apartments – 25 studios, 57 one-bedrooms, 60 two-bedrooms, and 24 three-bedroom units (plus a super’s unit) – all affordable to very low-income renters. Those residents have access to recreation and community rooms, and a rear patio, as well as a gym at the seventh floor with an adjacent outdoor terrace. This market-rate style amenity space offers commanding views of the Manhattan Skyline and East River. Sharing the views, one of the building’s most inspiring features, is a key component in this design and speaks to the effort to plan for an inclusive living environment. The gym and open terrace space are also among design interventions to promote physical health. Not only is the on-site workout space a convenient way to stay healthy, the 7th floor location is mid-way between the top and bottom floors, making it possible for more people to use the stairs. To encourage use, the stairwell was conceived using active design principles, so double-height landings and windows provide daylight and views.
MLK Plaza was one of the first developments to use the City’s new Zoning for Quality Affordability regulation, which allowed for a rezoning of the property from manufacturing to residential. The exterior design embraces the neighborhood’s industrial identity with dark gray brick and metal panels. The gold color of the panels, however, provides a bright counterpoint to that aesthetic and reflects the material quality of this housing. The gold swath at the 7th floor also aligns visually with the adjacent six-story building. This helps to set MLK Plaza more comfortably within the scale of the surrounding properties. Nestled within this band, is the cutout for the open-air terrace which breaks up the block-long façade.
The fully-glazed, double-height lobby, pulls daylight in and gives street-level illumination at night. A mural of the building’s namesake, by local artists Tats Cru, graces a lobby wall. Inside the apartments, hardwood floors warm the spaces and large windows flood them with natural light.
Committed to health and sustainability, MLK Plaza is LEED Platinum.
The Mill at Middletown
An adaptive reuse of the Fuller Brothers Hat Manufactory, The Mill offers 42 units of affordable housing and space for a café with a job training program run by a local nonprofit. While not on the National Register of Historic Places, the building, built in 1875, was a significant example of Middletown’s mid 19th century industrial architecture as well as that of the wider Hudson Valley.
Working with the original building posed several challenges. The west wall leaned by almost 13” in some spots and load bearing walls had settled because of the site’s proximity to a creek and an inadequate original foundation. They could no longer support the roof or floors. In order to maintain the historic integrity of the property, a new structural system with enhanced foundation elements (including piers to support the new steel columns that now carry the roof and floor loads) was built between the exterior and interior walls, so as not to be visible from either the outside or inside the building.
In order to increase the number of affordable apartments, a four-story addition was placed on the east side of the site. Clad in lap siding, which is consistent with the exterior materials of the neighboring homes, it is connected to the mill building with a three-story metal and glass “hyphen.” The glazed connection and exterior material change help to differentiate the new wing, clarifying the two masses, and avoiding the perception that the old and new have been unified into a single architectural whole. The addition is also set back from the property line placing the emphasis on the historic building and supporting its prominence along the street.
The floor to ceiling windows of the hyphen connection between the two buildings also allow for views through the building to the repointed chimney stack – an important feature of the site and a clear connection to its industrial history.
Given its historical value, an adaptive reuse was the best way to honor the community’s past and at the same time, make way for new uses essential to the city’s future.