Adjaye reveals design for Harlem museum

July 9, 2015

Adjaye Associates has revealed its design for the new Studio Museum in Harlem, New York

The new five-storey building will replace the museum's current home on Manhattan's West 125th Street.

Planned to increase the museum's gallery space by 50 per cent, the 6,595m2 scheme includes a four-storey 'light-filled' core, alongside lecture and performance spaces, education facilities and a terrace overlooking the street.

According to the practice, Adjaye's design 'takes its cues from the brownstones, churches and bustling sidewalks of Harlem'.

It added: 'The conceptual design envisions a dynamic, sculptural facade that contrasts strongly with the surrounding commercial buildings, while being transparent and porous from street level.'

Since 1982 the gallery, which displays art by contemporary artists of African descent, has been located in a century-old commercial building renovated for it by the celebrated African-American architect J. Max Bond.

Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, said: 'The world of the arts and Harlem have both changed dramatically over the half century since our institution was founded, and we're proud that the Studio Museum has been a catalyst in those developments. Now, as a standard-bearer for contemporary artists of African descent, we're poised to begin a new era.

'With the help of the brilliant David Adjaye, who is giving us the first facility designed expressly for our needs, we will foster the next generation of artists. We will bring the creative achievements of our artists, past and present, to audiences from near and far. And, more than ever, we will heighten the special vibrancy that is synonymous with Harlem.'

Mayor Bill de Blasio, added: 'For generations, artists living and working in Harlem have had an enormous impact on the character and sensibilities of this country. And for the last 50 years The Studio Museum in Harlem has been a pillar for this community, studying, promoting, supporting, and contributing to the cultural fabric of this extraordinary neighbourhood and amplifying voices of artists of African descent for an international audience.'

Last year Adjaye completed the 50 million Sugarhill affordable housing scheme nearby.

Work is expected to start on site in 2017, with the museum set to open in time for its 50th anniversary in 2018.

The Architects' Journal
By Laura Mark