Sugar Hill Development
2. November 2015
With the opening last month of the the Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling, the larger Sugar Hill Development is complete. The 13-story building designed by the firm of David Adjaye also consists of an early childhood center, 124 units of affordable housing, office space, a parking garage, and a rooftop farm.
Looking east on West 155th Street
The building is located on the southeast corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and West 155th Street, a prominent spot that overlooks a park to the north and falls away toward the Harlem River on the east. The building responds to New York City's zoning code by stepping back at the ninth floor, a move that is accompanied by an overhang of the same size on the back of the building.
West elevation facing St. Nicholas Avenue
Detail of north elevation facing 155th Street
The building's strong presence is accentuated by its dark exterior, which is made up of precast concrete panels. With this choice of material and construction, the window placement is relatively unencumbered, reflected in the random placement of the small windows on the east and west elevations. Further, the serrated north and south facades incorporate the ventilation grilles in a way that is less distracting than most New York City affordable housing projects. A vertical striping permeates the panels, though at certain angles the rose-inspired pattern of circles is evident, what is an artistic touch on a fairly utilitarian wrapper.
Ninth floor terrace
One of the most remarkable aspects of the project is its programmatic diversity. Multi-family residential buildings in New York City—be they affordable, market-rate or a mix of both—tend to be exclusively residential minus some ground-floor retail. The Sugar Hill Development includes public spaces for art, community spaces for children and adults, and office spaces for the developer and other non-profits. These programmatic additions are expressed on the exterior, particularly on the first and ninth floors overlooking the park on the north; from here they are horizontal glass bands within the otherwise gray precast skin.
Early Childhood Center
Adjaye Associates, which is based in London but has offices in New York and other locations, was responsible for the building design as well as the interiors in all spaces but the apartments. While the exterior is dark and colorless, the interior is light and full of color, especially in the spaces for children. The importance of these spaces is evident in statements by Adjaye at the time of the museum's opening:
Level 1 Plan
Level 2 Plan
Typical residential floor plan
North-sout section looking east
Text by John Hill
Sugar Hill Development2015
New York City, USA
Broadway Housing Communities
Architect of Record
SLCE Architects LLP
Rader + Crews
Ysrael A. Seinuk, P.C.
Rodkin Cardinale, P.C.
Israel Berger & Associates LLC
Steve Winters Associates Inc.
Mountco Construction and Development
Zubatkin Owner Representation LLC