From all of us at Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects, Happy Holidays and Have a Great New Year!
Last Fall we happily announced the start of construction on the new 60-unit affordable housing building going up in Mt. Eden, the Bronx, under a partnership between Settlement Housing Fund and The Briarwood Organization. 1561 Walton Avenue has progressed steadily ever since and is now more than halfway through plank installation — project team Daughtry, Kerry, and Andrew are very pleased to share a few shots of the progress below.
The building is visually broken up into 4 planes stepping back from the front property line, which will be further articulated with different shades of brick to create a 4-step gradient across the facade.
The project’s anticipated completion is Fall 2017.
This Earth Day, we’re taking a moment to look back at one of our favorite eco-friendly projects, the Eco Restroom at the Bronx Zoo for the Wildlife Conservation Society. This was a very fun project, and the restrooms far exceeded their initial goal of providing an eco-friendly comfort station to actually become an exhibit and learning opportunity.
The weather is looking great this weekend – it’s a great time to go check out the Bronx Zoo, and learn a bit about sustainable water use while you’re there.
Photos by David Sundberg for Esto Photography
One of our seasonal traditions here at ESKW/A is the annual holiday gift donation drive. Headed up by illustrious office manager Lauretta daCruz, we collected donations from the office, shopped for gifts, wrapped ’em up, and hand delivered to students at Explore Charter School in Brooklyn. A school social worker and high school placement coordinator identified families who could use some additional cheer this holiday season. The guardians were contacted, and the kids provide a wish list. Each child received special gifts selected just for them off of their list.
We had a lovely haul this year, and we’re grateful to everyone who participated. Happy Holidays to all!
Our recently completed 4380 Bronx Boulevard along with current shelter projects at 233 Landing Road, 2570 Fulton, 91 Pitt, 149 W 132, and 8 E 3rd Street, have us thinking about the public perception of shelters and the homeless. Last Wednesday several of us from ESKW/A trouped up to the Bronx Museum to attend and show support for a student presentation on the culmination of a summer spent investigating the ins and outs of the shelter system in NYC. CUP, the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and the College Now program of Hostos Community College brought in teaching artist Patrick Rowe to work with the teens throughout the project and teach them to funnel their newfound knowledge into a visual form (poster shown below).
The students conducted numerous interviews with city council members, the NYC Department of Homeless Services, community board members, and individuals directly associated with local shelters. They also visited a non-profit shelter as well as Picture the Homeless and garnered a better understanding of the system as seen from the inside.
In the resultant presentation, the class was careful to show both sides of the arguments for and against the types and locations of shelters. Many members of the audience were surprised to learn that shelters are not evenly distributed over the boroughs but rather are quite concentrated in the Bronx.
“We like to keep families applying to shelters close to their support systems, their children’s school, and to their last known address,” said Lisa Black of the NYC Department of Homeless Services. Even with the large number of shelters within the borough, however, they fill up and people can sometimes be relocated across the city. As one student explained, “Let’s say you’re from here [the Bronx], but let’s say all the shelters in the Bronx are full—then they will end up moving to the next closest shelters, which could be in Brooklyn or could be far away, like Staten Island. From that standpoint, you’re taking me away from my home, from people I grew up with, where I’m very comfortable.”
No discussion of the shelter system can go without touching on the concept of NIMBY, and the class addressed this as well. In his interview with the students, Sam Miller of Picture the Homeless explained, “The Bronx is one of the areas that sends the most families into the shelter system. Many times when communities in the Bronx oppose a shelter, they’re opposed to their own neighbors who’ve been driven out by rising rents.”
It was gratifying to hear that on an individual level many of the students felt that their eyes had been opened and their assumptions challenged. As one teen told the audience:
“We were asked the question, ‘Who do you think these people are? Where do you think they come from?’ and unfortunately I had a very low opinion of them. To be honest, the only homeless people I saw were basically crazy people, drunks, drug addicts, people that didn’t really cause me to think about this issue. But as the program went on and as we did our visits, and especially when we went to meet some people from Picture the Homeless, they opened my eyes. Talking to one of the men there taught me through the way that he spoke that not all homeless people are drug addicts, etc. I hope one day to be as smart as him.”
Her sentiment was common amongst her classmates, many of whom echoed the assertion that their preconceived notions about the system and especially the shelter inhabitants had been turned around. These students will undoubtedly continue to spread their new knowledge within their neighborhoods, raising awareness and altering the prejudices of those around them. The presentation focused on a serious problem faced by our community, but thanks to the students’ enthusiasm the tone of the evening was distinctly hopeful.
Earlier this month we were happy to announce our upcoming partnership with the Bowery Residents’ Committee in their revolutionary proposed housing endeavor, Landing Road. Now, as the initial zoning and feasibility studies are complete, it’s time for Project Manager Kimberly Murphy and her team to look for the sources of inspiration that will drive the design of this project forward. And inspiration is in no short supply.
Kimberly describes the uplifting event – the BRC fundraising Gala in June – that kicked off the project initially:
“The Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) held their annual fundraising Gala at the Mondrian Hotel on Columbus Circle. Andrew, Randy, Kimberly, Kerry, and Martin were pleased to support BRC and represent ESKW/A at the event. Emcee Robert Kind (actor from Curb your Enthusiasm and Spin City) shared his dilemma when faced with homeless persons he encounters on the street with his children because he didn’t want to just give a hand out. His dilemma was solved when he met BRC because he learned how to give a hand up, not just a hand out.
“A beautifully created short film featuring one of BRC’s clients told the story of just one of the many homeless helped by BRC and made the point that all homeless have a story to tell if you’re willing to listen. Garland was a special guest at the Gala and was proud to share his journey with all the supporters of the organization.
“Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO of BRC, thanked all the supporters and described the challenge faced by BRC’s formerly homeless clients: affordable housing. Graduates from BRC have done everything they are supposed to do: they are clean, they have jobs (although low-paying), and they are off the streets. However they can’t afford to live in this city. Enter BRC’s newest project: Project Hope. Located on Landing Road in the Bronx, this new building will provide not only 200 beds and support services to the homeless, but in an innovative model set forth by Mayor Bill De Blasio, the building will also provide affordable housing which will assist in funding the shelter on the ground floor.
“ESKW/A was thrilled to be selected as the architect for the project. Muzzy explained that all but $200,000 has been raised to purchase the site and called on attendees to pony up and donate the balance. And on the spot he was able to raise the remaining funds for Landing Road.
“It was a stellar evening of support for an organization we are proud to be connected to. The view from the 35th floor overlooking Columbus Circle wasn’t too shabby either. You know it was an impressive night of fund raising when we recall all of these wonderful details with the distraction of the Lego building block door prizes sitting in front of us. You can’t expect Architects to pay much attention to the program when you put Legos in front of them, so well done, BRC!”
The ESKW representatives at the Gala. From the left: Randy Wood, Martin Galindez, Kimberly Murphy, Kerry Zucker, and Andrew Knox