Housing in Harlem

Rebirth of the Dwyer Warehouse, an 1892 Harlem landmark that partially collapsed in 2002

by James 30 December 2009
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    The client brief consisted of rebuilding the 96,000 sq ft collapsed warehouse as a residential building with community based uses including 52 Residential Lofts to provide a local alternative to Lower Manhattan, as well as the Dwyer Cultural Center, a multi-media center devoted to the traditions and history of Harlem located in the lower level and vault spaces. The project also includes the Little Gym in Harlem, for childrens gymnastics, located at the first floor.

    The original envelope and floor area was rebuilt as permitted by the NYC zoning envelope, utilising existing foundations and remaining lot line walls. Rear courtyards were added for light and air, and their floor area was used to create a penthouse level. A phasing plan provided for removal of debris and replacement of the damaged superstructure so that 25% remained at any time.

    The design recalls the warehouse in form and use of masonry, but with an industrial glazing at residential living areas. The original corner hexagon is expressed in floor to floor glass, and other lofts have Juliet balconies. Lofts with open kitchens range from 1,950 sq ft in the front to 820 sq ft in the rear. The Little Gym is open to the street, and an attractive first floor lobby draws visitors to the Cultural Center.

    The principal facades face south to the Manhattan skyline and locate the building within the larger urban context.The Dwyer relates to the community through the adaptive re-use of a landmark for loft living and cultural uses, and creates a new image for Harlem. Since opening last summer, the Dwyer Cultural Center has presented timely exhibitions and jazz events such as the recent Tribute to Billie Holiday.

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