Sugar Hill is a new mixed-use development in Manhattan’s historic Sugar Hill district of Harlem that features affordable housing, early education programs and a new cultural institution. Initiated by a non- profit developer of supportive housing, Broadway Housing Communities (BHC), and generated by a tight budget as well as the exacting parameters of the site, the concept challenges the traditional typology. Unusually, the scheme incorporates a public program, with a children’s museum and early childhood center, which resonates with Adjaye Associates’ commitment to a wider urban and cultural responsibility. The 13-storey, 124-apartment affordable housing complex will be located on W. 155th Street at St. Nicholas Avenue. The practice worked closely with the client and local community to ensure the design is tied to its history, practical and aesthetic requirements, through a series of workshops and planning meetings. The brief required a modern design complementary to its surrounding environment of Gothic revival row- houses.
The response is a textured slab building, which crowns a 76 foot
base that steps back at the ninth floor to create a ten foot terrace and cantilever on opposite sides. The textured cladding is achieved with rose embossed pre-cast panels, which give a textured, ornamental effect. Saw- toothed fenestration fans across both façades, referencing bay windows that are a common feature of the area. These windows also frame 360’ views of New York City including Central Park, One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, the Hudson and Harlem Rivers and the new Yankee Stadium. Terraces are placed on the second, third, ninth, and roof levels. At the base of the building is a Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling. The 18,036 square feet area has been designed with interactive exhibition and performance spaces and an artist-in-residence studio. The second floor houses a 12,196 square feet, light filled early childhood education center and offices for BHC are located on the ninth floor. The residences, education center and museum are accessed from a landscaped public plaza on St. Nicholas Avenue.