Home » Old New York school will be re-used to be a community center


A team of professionals, including architects, designers and construction contractors, have been selected by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to redesign and develop the East Harlem Multi-Service Center. Located on 413 East 120th St., the historic school building will be redesigned to become a multi-purpose community center.

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The Beacon team will include experts from Paul A. Castrucci Architect (PAC), WXY architecture, Body Lawson Associates and Terrain NYC under the leadership of The Community Builders and Ascendant Neighborhood Development. These experts will be working together to bring the winning design to life.

Related: CLT gives a sustainable community center in Copenhagen a welcoming feel

In a press release, PAC expressed its enthusiasm about the project, calling it a sustainable and progressive design. The multi-service center will not only help develop an interactive space, but will also help minimize waste. In normal circumstances, old buildings such as Harlem are destroyed and the land put to a different use. However, the PAC design offers a solution that will allow redesigning the existing building, adding other structures that will bring out the beauty of the center.

A green space filled with plants

The new development will add 29 new affordable homes. Up to 30% of the new homes will be set aside for the homeless or households that have experienced homelessness at some point. Housing demand in New York usually outweighs availability, however, the project will be valuable but also sustainable.

The new residential building will be developed north of the existing East Harlem multi-service center. The center itself will be rehabilitated in accordance with a design presented by PAC. In their proposal, PAC presented a strong case for retaining the existing building. They argued that keeping the structure and developing it would help maintain the architectural structure of the neighborhood. Further, the proposed new building would offer a model for sustainability and reduce carbon footprint.

An indoor basketball court filled with people and kids playing on the court

With the new design, the team will be tasked with constructing the new building while retaining key aspects of the traditional service center. Aspects such as after-school programming areas must be retained while creating new ones such as a new atrium and green spaces.

Besides retaining the old building, the project will also look at other areas of reducing emissions. For instance, the new proposed building will have rooftop solar, which will serve energy for some of the homes. Approximately, the solar panels will generate 280 kilowatt of solar, cutting power use up to 20%.

A skyscraper-looking building lit up at nighttime

Additionally, the designer came up with a plan that tries to answer the future needs of the building users. In their initial proposal, PAC sought to work with an existing structural grid built to keep the flow plate structurally open.

“The ground floor of the existing building will be lowered for accessibility,” said PAC in a press release. “Lowering the ground floor, along with increasing the size of the ground floor storefront openings, will create a direct connection with the street.”

Although not a new design, PAC has demonstrated that old buildings can be repurposed into something beautiful instead of being completely destroyed.

+ Paul A. Castrucci Architects

Images via WXY Studio



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