Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ARCHITECTURE: THE SUGAR CUBE BUILDING

Somehow when it comes to affordable and public housing, the government really tries hard to put in some design elements but always end up with something that looks Brutalist in nature and often detaches itself from the surrounding neighborhood.  The Sugar Hill affordable housing dubbed The Sugar Cube up on West 155th Street was designed by prominent architect David Adjaye but ended up looking very cold and has a sensibility much like some of the other affordable housing complexes built in the past.  If it's any comfort, the government can just say they alway try to hire the best since the great Le Corbusier came up with the original public housing plan which was called The Radiant City (Le Ville Radieuse) and has since been recognized as a failure in urban planning: LINK

11 comments:

  1. What's the hideous looking government building on the corner of 125th and ACP?

    This reminds me of it.

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  2. That is the state office building and is a prime example of Brutalist architecture.

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  3. Adjaye Associates 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 building crowns a 76 foot base that steps back at the ninth floor to create a ten foot terrace and cantilever on opposite sides. The cladding is achieved with rose embossed graphite tinted pre-cast panels, which create a textured, ornamental effect, paying tribute to the rich culture and history of Harlem by abstractly referencing the intricate masonry ornament and the articulation of the row-house bays of the neighboring buildings as well as resonating with the fact that the site falls within the “heritage rose” district. The roses on the building fa├žade are set to varying sizes and depths to enhance the play of light across the surface. The fenestration accentuates the vine-like qualities of the rose pattern while also providing an abundance of natural light and views from the apartments.
    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. At the base of the building is a Children’s Museum, designed with interactive exhibition and performance spaces and an artist-in-residence studio. The second floor will house a light filled early childhood education center. The residences, education center and museum will be accessed from a landscaped public plaza on St. Nicholas Avenue. The tinted precast concrete material was refined through a series of studies, samples and tests, and is designed to sparkle with sunlight allowing the building to shimmer throughout the day. The graphite color also serves as a contrast to the luminous glass facade that begins at the public entry plaza and wraps around the entire building creating a glowing beacon for the gateway to the Sugar Hill district. The color and architectural character of the building contributes to the historical context of the Sugar Hill area and we believe will be a great benefit to the neighborhood for years to come.

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    1. I hope this building does shimmer, etc., because in this photo it just looks dark and prison-like. Oh well, I suppose people in "affordable" housing aren't supposed to expect anything beautiful.

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    2. With all due respect Adjaye Associates, it's a huge black box. I get the conceptual idea with the rose pattern on the facade, but noone would make that connection without having it explained to them. Its such an abstract concept that its completely unrealistic to expect anyone in the area get that. While the form and structure are very strong, aesthetically, the black does not work.

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  4. Is this going to be public housing for non-working people?

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    1. These are affordable units which means they are not low-income housing.

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  5. If this is your attempt at trying to convenience us that this is

    "paying tribute to the rich culture and history of Harlem "

    It does not get my vote!!

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  6. Good, we don't need any more "projects" in Harlem.

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  7. Seems the architect checked many boxes to arrive at this design, the resulting building looks straight out of George Orwell’s 1984, a ministry where people go in and are never seen again.

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