- Project Name
- Tenement Museum Renovation
- Perkins Eastman
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- Adaptive Reuse
- 27,650 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Miabelle Salzano
- Project Status
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The Tenement Museum tells the story of American immigration through personal stories that reveal how immigration has helped shape the nation’s culture, economy, and society. Using extant building fabric of preserved buildings in America’s iconic immigrant neighborhood, NYC’s Lower East Side, the Museum reveals the stories of nearly 20,000 people who lived in tenement buildings on Orchard Street in the late 19th century through the 1970s.
Perkins Eastman has been working as a design partner to the Museum for more than ten years, helping it create an urban campus; increase its prominence within NYC, particularly within the growth and cultural changes of Lower Manhattan; and realize its mission of becoming a unique community and civic resource. It is now regarded as one of the top cultural destinations in NYC and is a National Historic Site.
· 20-year master plan parceled out into five-year phases;
· forensic exploration of immigrant life as excavated in the now-restored apartment of an Irish family from the 1860s (97 Orchard Street);
· exterior exhibit that highlights the importance of small outside spaces to the tenement experience;
· basement-level exhibition examining tenement commercial life;
· renovation of the lower floors of the corner space at 103 Orchard Street into the museum's visitor and education center;
· and the latest phase, which creates an invisible architectural backdrop for the Museum’s new permanent exhibit on modern immigration and provides administrative space.
The design methodology was to deliberately retain and showcase as much of the existing buildings as possible in the redesign in order for the buildings to serve as teaching tools. Sensitive interventions to the building fabric enhance the environment for staff. The challenge of safely reproducing the conditions that retain these buildings’ historic significance, while in the latest phases stitching together three dilapidated structures while remaining responsive to the Museum’s vision and educational goals, was significant.
Originally constructed as a row of three Old-Law tenements in 1888, the building at 103 Orchard Street is, in particular, a survivor. Through multiple cycles of boom and bust, it bears the accumulated traces (and considerable scars) of more than a hundred years of major alterations and heavy use. Originally built in response to the great wave of immigration in the late 19th century, it has been continuously adapted to changing urban and economic conditions by a long succession of owners and commercial tenants. The latest design continues this tradition of urban regeneration in a most authentic way.
The latest phase, the stabilization, reconfiguration, and refurbishment of the upper floors of 103 Orchard Street above the Visitor Center (2011), provides new exhibit areas and much-needed administrative spaces for Museum staff. “Under One Roof” tells the stories of three families—Polish Holocaust survivors, Puerto Rican migrants, and Chinese immigrants—who lived in the building at various times. It is the Museum’s first exhibit on modern immigration.
Celebrating humanity through the immigrant experience, the Tenement Museum corroborates the grand experiment that is America through architecture and examines the role that history and museums can play in our lives.