The New York Community Center gets a makeover

East Harlem’s Washington Houses Community Center has been transformed into a state-of-the-art youth and senior center. Photo courtesy of Andrew Franz Architect

East Harlem’s Washington Houses Community Center has been transformed into a state-of-the-art youth and senior center. Andrew Franz Architect has reimagined the 60-year-old New York structure from its original design to a new 1022 m2 (11,000 square feet) community facility.

Through the doors, an expanded reception area bathed in natural light from new skylights opens to a multi-purpose space with tiered tiered-style wooden seating with colorful artwork and finished accents.

Then extending to various reception areas including the library, education center, classrooms and computer lab, as well as the senior center through the entrance lounge, offices and services with varied opportunities for Union Settlement to serve its various constituencies. The community center features works by local artists, such as East Harlem artist Kristy McCarthy’s ‘Welcome Home’ multimedia art installation, which features images and designs representing the neighborhood’s diverse ethnicities and history .

In addition to Andrew Franz Architect, the project team included contractor SPK | Lewis; the mechanical, electrical and plumbing firm Plus Group Consulting Engineers; cost estimator Ellana Inc., code consultant JMV Associates; and Design One Lighting Design. Other contributors included muralist Alice Mizrachi, installation artist Kristy McCarthy, and art consultant Angel Bellaran.

Jill E. Washington