The main entry is located on the long face of the building, with its ipe cladding and slate tiles.

The main entry is located on the long face of the building, with its ipe cladding and slate tiles.

Credit: Nic Lehoux


Category: Bond
Citation
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.

Slate tiles are laid in a pattern inspired by traditional African motifs.

Slate tiles are laid in a pattern inspired by traditional African motifs.

Credit: Nic Lehoux

 

A wooden bridge connects the historic Weeksville homes to the new structure.

A wooden bridge connects the historic Weeksville homes to the new structure.

Credit: Nic Lehoux

An aerial view shows how the new center frames the four historic houses (at upper right) on the 1.5-acre site. Where not bounded by buildings, the perimeter is enclosed by a cast-iron fence from Allen Architectural Metals.

An aerial view shows how the new center frames the four historic houses (at upper right) on the 1.5-acre site. Where not bounded by buildings, the perimeter is enclosed by a cast-iron fence from Allen Architectural Metals.

Credit: Julian Olivas


The slate-and-glass volume that houses the multipurpose performance space, gallery, and library, overlooks a sculptural bench in the landscape.

The slate-and-glass volume that houses the multipurpose performance space, gallery, and library, overlooks a sculptural bench in the landscape.

Credit: Nic Lehoux

Inside the pergola, which provides circulation through the building, and views out to the site.

Inside the pergola, which provides circulation through the building, and views out to the site.

Credit: Nic Lehoux




Project Credits

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