This museum in the heart of Brooklyn interprets the legacy of the mid-19th century African-American community of Weeksville and serves as the steward for four surviving historic houses that date from 1840 to 1883. The new 23,000-square-foot education and cultural arts building, designed by Long Island City, N.Y., firm Caples Jefferson Architects, provides space for exhibitions, performances, and lectures along with classrooms and a library. The site design defers to the houses, placing the new building opposite them, across a landscaped field that incorporates the vestiges of a historic road at the heart of Brooklyn. The center, which is L-shaped in plan, defines the edges of the site and conforms to the city grid. A glazed pergola links the main volumes of the center, which are clad in slate and horizontal ipe siding. Patterns derived from African origins appear in the stone-covered exterior walls, the bronze security screen at the entrance, and the cast-iron fencing around the site’s perimeter.
While the jury had qualms about the use of too many materials and what they viewed as gratuitous details, they praised the effort to elevate a small community building to a high level. “The fact that they left so much of the site open showed a lot of restraint,” said juror Cathy Lang Ho. “They could have used more of the site and chose not to—which leaves the houses more visible.”
See all of the winners of ARCHITECT's 2013 Annual Design Review here.
For additional coverage of the Weeksville Heritage Center, read John Morris Dixon's piece from the October 2013 issue of ARCHITECT.
For more projects by Caples Jefferson Architects, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.
Project Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Client NYC Department of Design & Construction—David Burney, FAIA (commissioner); NYC Department of Cultural Affairs—Victor Metoyer (deputy director of capital projects unit); Weeksville Heritage Center—Pamela Green (executive director)
Architect Caples Jefferson Architects, Long Island City, N.Y.—Sara Caples, AIA, Everardo Jefferson, AIA (principals); Michael Behrman (associate principal)
M/E Engineer Loring Consulting Engineers
StructuralEngineer Severud Associates
Civil and Geotechnical Engineer Langan Engineering
Geotthermal Engineer P.W. Grosser Consulting
Construction Manager Hill International
General Contractor Brickens Construction
Landscape Architect Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects
Lighting Designer Berg-Howland Associates
Theatrical Lighting Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design
Cost Estimating Faithful & Gould
Building Department Metropolis
Specifications Heller + Metzger
Curtainwall Gordon Smith Corp.
Sustainable Design & Commissioning Viridian
Security Ducibella Venter & Santore
Museum Programming Dial Associates
Size 23,000 square feet (building); 41,000 square feet (landscape)
Cost $26 million
Material and Sources
Building Management Systems Johnson Controls johnsoncontrols.com
Carpet Bigelow themohawkgroup.com
Ceilings Decoustics decoustics.com ; Techstyle hunterdouglascontract.com
Exterior Wall Systems General Woodcraft generalwoodcraftinc.com
Flooring Oregon Lumber Co. oregonlumber.com
Furniture Steelcase steelcase.com
Glass JE Berkowitz jeberkowitz.com
HVAC AWL Industries
Masonryand Stone Vermont Structural Slate vermontstructuralslate.com
Metal Allen Architectural Metals allenmetals.com
Millwork Mitchell’s Restoration & Millwork; ACGI acgiwood.com
Paints and Finishes Art-in-Construction artinconstruction.com ; Sherwin Williams sherwin-williams.com
Roofing Revere Copper reverecopper.com
Windows and Doors Door Engineering doorengineering.com; Schüco/S&C Products schueco.com