A Home for Harlem Dowling

Organization Name: Urban Quotient

Project Title: A Home for Harlem Dowling

Project Location: Harlem, Manhattan

Project Goals:
Harlem Dowling, founded in 1836 as the Colored Orphans Asylum, was the nations’ first philanthropic institution devoted to children of color. In 1863, that original institution was burned down in the infamous New York City Draft Riots. The completion of this mixed-use project marks the first time since the Draft Riots that the institution, now a well-respected foster care agency and community based organization, will have its own home in Manhattan. The building massing and facades are designed to fit within the tradition of elegant New York City residential architecture. At the same time, the materials, the ground floor articulation, and the top floors provide a variation on this theme that makes the building stand out from its context in a manner that speaks to the mission and purpose of Harlem Dowling. The red and pale yellow metal panels on the facade act as a counterpoint to the more traditional brick, providing an outward vibrancy reflecting the program and mission inside.

Project Description:
This new 10-story building has 76,400sf of gross buildable area with 60 units of affordable housing. The community facility spaces total about 16,000sf and include open office areas, conference spaces, visiting rooms, counseling offices, a modern lunch room and medical clinic spaces. The residential portion of the building has two distinct roof terraces open to all residents. One is on the 2nd Floor directly above the community facility space, and is adjacent to both the multi-purpose recreation room and the laundry room. The other is on the 9th Floor and includes an outdoor kitchen and wood decking. The building’s structural system is steel and plank which allows for large windows and ample light in the units and an efficient, open floor plate at the ground level and cellar. The large windows and open plan are carried through at the community facility floors as well where skylights, light-wells, and open stairwells bring light into all spaces and connect the two levels together.

Community Impact:
The project brings 60 units of affordable housing to a neighborhood that has seen a tremendous increase in rent levels in the last few years. Twelve of those units are set aside for the very vulnerable population of young adults who are aging out of the foster care system and would otherwise start their adult lives without a home. The building provides space for much needed community services like a food pantry, family services, teen counseling, and a medical clinic that are open for all. In addition, the build- ing enlivens the streetscape in the area and creates a welcoming presence in the neighborhood on this prominent street corner in Harlem.

Organization Description:
Urban Quotient (UQ) is a full-service architecture firm whose focus is to design and promote equitable urban environments. Through our multi-dis- ciplinary approach, which includes urban design, landscape, planning, and development, we seek to create work that expresses both the specificity of place and the complexity of forces that shape the built environment. We believe that thoughtful, intelligent architecture encompasses a rigorous approach to producing high-quality design, a thorough knowledge of construction in the field, and an advocacy role for social responsibility and sustainability in policy and urban development.

    Typical apartment unit interior.

    Façade detail along West 127th Street.

    Double-façade detail inside an Exam Room.

    Street Façade along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

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