The project is located across the street from the landmarked house of the legendary jazz musician. The new $23-million, 14,000-square-foot center will allow the museum to offer expanded programming, including concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and community events. The museum’s research collections, which are currently housed at Queens College’s library, will move into an Archival Center on the second floor. There will also be a Jazz Room for musicians to rehearse and perform their music, fulfilling the living legacy of the Louis Armstrong.
In 2006, the State of New York awarded Queens College and the City University of New York (CUNY) $5 million to begin the design process, and in 2007, the Department of Cultural Affairs gave another $5 million. New York–based Caples Jefferson Architects was selected to head the design of the center. Once it is completed, the firm will seek a LEED Gold rating.
The center’s facade is composed of three sections: curved window panes along the bottom, a flat, recessed middle section with a terrace above, and a green roof on the top. Its entrance is placed at an angle along the curved facade to establish a direct visual connection to the house, according to the architects’ description on their website. Openings in the roof allow light to cut through, illuminating different heights of the exhibit spaces and research rooms.
“The groundbreaking for the Education Center is the next step toward creating a Louis Armstrong campus,” said Michael Cogswell, executive director of the museum, in a press release. “There is nothing else like it in the jazz world.”
Louis and Lucille Armstrong purchased the house (which is the museum today) in 1943 and lived there for the entirety of their life. The site is a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark, now owned by Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by Queens College.
The project is slated to finish in 2019.