Organization Name: SKA Marin & Dattner Architects
Project Title: Draper Hall
Project Location: East Harlem, New York, New York
Draper Hall sets a new standard of quality for senior affordable housing. The project blends preservation of an existing, mid-century structure with new construction to provide new affordable housing complete with shared spaces and amenities. Draper Hall allows residents, 62 and older, to “age in place”, living independently with vital resources. The original tower was expanded, allowing for double loaded corridors, and creating 200 one-bedroom and 2 studio units. The team engaged in extensive community outreach, integrating their concerns in the design and programming. The building’s infrastructure was upgraded for resiliency (the site took 8’ of water during Sandy) including a seismic upgrade, existing building shell renovation, and filling the below-grade cellar with concrete. Located within a flood zone, the new design meets the current NYC and FEMA requirements. The project won the 2017 Affordable Housing Finance’s Readers’ Choice competition for best project in the country.
Draper Hall combines new construction with substantial rehabilitation to create new affordable housing for the senior community in gentrifying East Harlem, while retaining a handsome mid-century modern neighborhood landmark. The former dormitory sat vacant for years and has been transformed into a stunning, 14-story structure with a slender white-glazed brick tower. The 142,000 square foot tower sits atop a two-story podium with outdoor space facing the East River that houses a state-of-the-art health service center, multipurpose community center, and adult day program, providing on-site services to both residents of Draper Hall and the surrounding community. A low, blue-glazed brick wall screens a private garden alongside First Avenue. Apartment features include custom seated showers, rail bars, and call buttons with an easy connection to EMS, permitting seniors to grow old in their home. The apartments include energy-efficient appliances and lighting and accessibility features.
Draper Hall restores a community facility, and provides much needed affordable senior housing. At public meetings, a former nurse, from the original dormitory, reminisced and described his pleasure with this landmarks conversion. The community facility provides adult programming activities as well as medical and support services for tenants and the community including referral services, access to benefits, meals, social work services, group events, and recreation activities. Adjacent to the new Second Ave Subway, the project offers low income tenants an opportunity to reside in East Harlem where rents currently exceed $4,300 a month. Originally Draper Hall garden was surrounded by a high brick enclosure, essentially walling off this visual amenity from the community. The new design features a garden shared by Draper Hall and The Gilbert residents, with open fencing, enhancing the neighborhood with a visual connection into the natural beauty of the garden.
SKA Marin is the developer/owner. As the leading senior housing developer in New York, SKA Marin is an innovator in the field of health and housing. A 100% women owned firm, founded by Sydelle Knepper, SKA Marin has been developing, owning, and managing affordable housing since 1990. The firm is well recognized throughout New York for their creative and award winning projects. Dattner Architects is one of New York City’s top architecture firms. Their practice focuses on social infrastructure, and through planning and design of public and private projects at all scales, they continue to help shape and rejuvenate neighborhoods of New York City. SKA Marin has been working with Dattner Architects since the initial planning stages.