Posts tagged with "Community Centers":

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Graham Baba brings a new community space to a Seattle suburb

With the 5,000-square-foot Kenmore Hangar, Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects (GBA) and landscape architects HEWITT have brought a new “Town Green” and community center to the heart of Kenmore, Washington. Kenmore is a bedroom community that sits on the northern edge of Lake Washington, a few miles north of the Seattle city limits. The town was originally founded in 1901 but did not incorporate until 1998. That development spawned a city-led push to remake the former speakeasy haven into a town with a traditional, communal city center surrounded by mid-rise mixed-use structures. The municipality is currently redeveloping a series of city-owned lots, with the Kenmore Hangar and the attendant Town Green being among the first projects to come to fruition so far. HEWITT is working as the project executive for the Town Green designs, while GBA led the design of the Kenmore Hangar itself. The project’s aim, GBA Principal Jim Graham said, is to create a new “living room for the city” that could anchor the downtown area by harnessing the power of public open space. To fulfill this promise, GBA has deployed a humble brand of architecture, creating a steel post-and-beam structure wrapped in structurally insulated panels and ribbon windows. The community center offers movable interior partitions as well as aluminum clerestory storefront windows and a deep-set visor that creates covered outdoor space along two sides. The clear cedar-siding-wrapped facilities host a local coffee shop that fronts onto a trapezoidal plaza populated by movable chairs, tree-filled planters, and an interactive fountain. A phalanx of ginkgo trees turns the site’s street-adjacent edge into a zone fortified against automobiles while the building’s louvers and eaves protect against solar glare. Inside the structure, exposed steel elements, drop-down lighting, ductwork, and a large fan lend the space a sense of pragmatic utilitarianism. The divisible community room opens onto the 14,000-square-foot plaza via a 24-by-16-foot bi-fold window wall that turns the complex into an indoor-outdoor space. A wood-burning stove anchors the community living room while heated rocks embedded in the outdoor fountain create warm areas outside that allow the building’s uses to shift with the seasons throughout the year. The project, according to Graham, will guide future development in the city: “Kenmore [city officials] realize now that if they’re thoughtful about development and create an urban center, they will draw residents to its urban core.”
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More details emerge for the new Center for Community and Entrepreneurship in Flushing, Queens

A New York nonprofit powerhouse has commissioned two local firms to build out its mission in Flushing, Queens.

Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), an advocacy and community development agency based in Flushing, selected JCJ Architecture and Leong Leong to design the Center for Community and Entrepreneurship, a 90,000-square-foot business incubator and event space that will serve as a fulcrum for the neighborhood.

The announcement comes at a time of great growth for the neighborhood, a major commercial center for New York’s Asian-Americans. 70 percent of Flushing’s 72,000 residents are Asian, and the area is home to one of the world’s largest ethnic Chinese enclaves. “Vibrant,” that go-to good streets descriptor, doesn’t adequately capture the level of activity along Flushing’s main thoroughfares—Roosevelt Avenue, Main Street, and College Point Boulevard. Main Street is second only to Times Square in New York City foot traffic. Here, shoppers from all over the region access multi-story mini-malls through ground-level stores whose wares spill onto packed sidewalks that the city is spending nearly $8 million to widen.

The Center for Community and Entrepreneurship addresses a dark side of this prosperity: International real estate investment and a growing population have raised property values and commercial rents, making it tough for new enterprises to get off the ground. The center will sustain AAFE’s holistic development approach and build on its legacy of community investment. Since its founding 42 years ago, the organization has created more than 800 units of affordable housing and given $44 million in loans to 1,000-plus small businesses.

For design inspiration, the two firms looked both at AAFE’s mission and the surrounding area. “In Flushing, there are already a lot of pre-existing hybrid typologies,” said Dominic Leong, cofounding principal of Leong Leong. “It’s an interesting urban context—because of the history and the influx of immigrants from Asia, there are mixed-use typologies that just don’t exist anywhere else in the city. This project falls in line with that DNA, and takes it to an institutional level.”

The building’s seven-story gradient of public-to-private use beckons residents inside, while the program—a twist on the Flushing commercial typology of stacked retail—tackles challenges posed by the neighborhood’s rapid growth. A public plaza at 39th Avenue and College Point Boulevard, the architects explained, anchors the building to the neighborhood by drawing people in from the street, while private offices occupy the upper levels.

The space is organized as four connected volumes, each joined to an outdoor terrace. At ground level, the plaza’s 5,000-square-foot marketplace connects to Flushing’s street life, while upstairs, a flexible event space opens onto an adjacent terrace. A three-story open staircase, wide enough at its base for seating, connects the space through the third level. “From the plaza up to the stairs, you are metaphorically tracking the mission of AAFE,” said JCJ principal Peter Bachmann.

A third-floor incubator will provide co-working space, where emerging businesses will get assistance from the AAFE-affiliated Renaissance Economic Development Corporation. “The center is not only about providing affordable space,” said Christopher Kui, AAFE’s executive director. “It’s about networking opportunities and resources.” The nonprofit, whose offices will occupy the fourth floor, will lead entrepreneurship classes geared specifically to small businesses. As they grow, firms can rent space on floors five through seven.

A reflection of the hybrid program, the facade is most transparent at the two lowest and most public floors. The glass increases in opacity as the eye ascends to the upper, non-public floors, explained Chris Leong, Dominic’s brother and cofounder of the firm. The lot line wall is clad in metal panels and roughly mirrors the glass walls’ spacing.

Overall, the building respects its lot line, but, unlike a “jewel on the block,” it’s not trying to define itself against its context, Dominic said. It has a slight curvature in plan that brings it up the lot line, while the corner lot ensures that adjacent developments will respect the building’s profile.

AAFE awarded the project to the firms last fall, and the center is expected to be complete in 2018. Leong Leong and JCJ have mutual respect for each other’s desire to work with mission-driven organizations, and the architects stressed the strengths they bring to the project. JCJ has seven offices and a deep portfolio of community-minded projects, while Leong Leong is known for bringing its impossibly cool aesthetic to projects like the U.S. Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale and the Anita May Rosenstein Center, a new campus for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

In Flushing, both firms see architecture as a platform for community. “We are in a post-icon paradigm. This generation is trying to understand a different way to relate to context.” Dominic said. “Here, we interface with the community on the urban level of the plaza, then create building forms that respond to those criteria.”

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A quirky Googie bowling alley finds new life as a Community Center in Los Angeles

Googie—the futuristic style born in mid-century Los Angeles coffee houses (like the recently threatened Norms), gas stations, and motels—has found a revival in Cuningham Group's renovation of the “Southwest Bowl” in South LA’s West Athens district. The bowling alley, which was closed in 2008, was originally built in 1958. The 25,500 square foot lot was purchased by the Asomugha Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to educational advancement programs. The organization has transformed the alley into their new headquarters and community center, known as The Foundation Center. The architects maintained most of the exterior, including zigzag meandering walls and a large projecting canopy, and added elements like a new roof, skylights, upgraded finishes, and several new floors and walls. The mostly new interiors are organized with a broad axial concourse and a series of exciting floor level shifts.
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On View> Mobile Homestead: MOCA Detroit’s Community Center on Wheels

Mobile Homestead Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit 4454 Woodward Avenue Permanent Before his passing at the young age of 57, Los-Angeles based artist Mike Kelley created an exact duplicate of his childhood home in the Westland area of Detroit, on-wheels. The artist intended to use the mobile-home as a community center, it’s rooms dedicated to hosting local events and providing community services and education programs, save for the two-story basement, which he would close to the public and use as his private underground studio. Kelley was never able to use his studio. He tragically committed suicide before he could ever see his vision come to life, but his artistic legacy lives on. The mobile home, which provides a solid example of the architecture of working-class neighborhoods in the American Midwest, was wheeled to The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit where it has been transformed into a center for community programs, just as Kelley intended.
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Mies’ Gas Station Gets Refueled

Designed a year before his death in 1968, Mies van der Rohe’s Esso station on l’Île des Sœurs in Montreal has been vacant and shuttered since 2008. The station, intended to serve nearby apartment blocks also designed by Mies, was built during the early urbanization of the island and closed when another station opened closer to the island’s main thoroughfare. Having been declared a historic monument in 2009, the community eventually decided to restore the structure and convert it to an intergenerational community center. The renovation, designed by Éric Gauthier of Montreal-based Les Architectes FABG, maintains the structure’s layout and keeps original features intact, including the structure's brickwork and beams. A cantilevered steel roof bridges two glass pavilions, one originally housing a store and the other a rest area. In between, where gas pumps and an attendant’s booth once stood, intake/outtake vents for new geothermal energy wells mimic the original pumps while the booth in the center will house displays on Mies’ and the station’s history. Gauthier also maintained the original strips of fluorescent lighting that stretch across the underside of the roof from one pavilion to the other; the effect is striking, unifying the space as they run through the glass curtain walls.
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Archtober Building of the Day #12: Betances Community Center

When is a Center really a center? Well first of all it’s got to have a center, don’t you think? The Betances Community Center has a splendid gym holding strong in the middle of the plan, full of warm, white light modulated by the south-facing glass block wall and monitor side walls of Kalwall. Originally intended to house a boxing ring and bright orange bleacher seating, the space is now multi-purpose with the bleachers accordioned to the walls; the famous boxing program moved elsewhere. Even without the ring, the architecture packs a wallop of clarity, modesty, attention to detail, and programmatic resolution. So much transparency is rare for community center projects, says architect Stephen Yablon, AIA, principal of Stephen Yablon Architect. He credits David Burney, FAIA, his then client at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for establishing the clear statement of values and goals for the center. Built in an area challenged by crime, the large areas of glass would seem to invite the errant brick. Quite the contrary: the very high quality of the design has engendered unusual respect for the facility. This is a community center with a community that has found identity in the architectural expression of its public amenity. Now filled with after school programs, performing arts, art classes, and fitness, the Betances Center has had only one broken pane, and that one was inside. It’s all proof positive of the power of architecture to bring out the best in us. Click here for tour info on tomorrow's Building of the Day: New York Public Library Francis Martin Branch. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
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Unveiled> SO-IL to Transform an Old School into a Winding Community Center

Wulpen Community Center Architect: Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu Client: Flemish Government Architect Location: Wulpen, Belgium Completion: 2013 The Brooklyn-based firm Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO–IL) recently won a design competition for a community center located in Wulpen, a small, coastal town in Belgium. Their design transforms an unused schoolhouse into a community center with three distinct parts: a multipurpose room in the former two classrooms, a youth space in a garden, and meeting rooms in the original teachers’ house. The architects placed the circular youth section at one end of the courtyard space and the multipurpose room and meeting rooms at the other end. Their design merges these three spaces through a curved, covered concrete ribbon punctuated with openings that wraps around the perimeter of the property in the shape of a “U”, an element that both encloses and connects the separate areas of the community center—the multipurpose room, the youth space, the meeting rooms, and the resulting courtyard and tree at the center. The white concrete walkway unites and embraces these diverse spaces in a gentle way, like a warm hug from a good friend. SO–IL has partnered with the Belgium architecture firm Bureau Bouwtechniek for the project and the center is scheduled for completion in 2013. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.