Urban Quotient

Harlem Dowling

New York, NY
Mixed-Use Building with Executive & Program Offices for Foster Care along with Affordable Housing

Completed December 2016

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This new building will be located in the center of Harlem, at the corner of 127th Street & Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd (7th Avenue), near the Apollo Theater, the St. Theresa Hotel, and other landmarks of historical significance. The development will include 60 units of affordable housing as well as the executive and program offices of The Children’s Village and Harlem Dowling West Side Center for Children and Services, two well-respected foster care agencies and community- based organizations.

Harlem Dowling was founded in 1836 as the Colored Orphans Asylum by two Quaker women, and at the time was the first philanthropic institution devoted to children of color. The original institution was burned down in the infamous New York City Draft Riots of 1863. This project, timed to coincide with the 175-year anniversary of Harlem Dowling’s founding, will mark the first time since the Draft Riots that the institution 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 material choices, the ground floor, 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. At the ground floor, a double facade is employed, with the first floor elevated and setback from the facade to allow light to the cellar spaces below. These two facades together create a rhythmic syncopation, evocative of Harlem’s rich cultural history. This syncopation is repeated in the window and mullion design on the top floors, where studio units are set aside for young adults aging out of the foster care system, but who still need assistance and housing.