Nominated by: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects
Location: New York, NY
Developer: L+M Development Partners, Inc.
Architect: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects
General Contractor: Congress Builders
Interior Designer: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects
Project Website: thecarolinanyc.com
The Carolina brings 400 units of state-of-the-art affordable housing and extensive community facilities on a prime East Harlem block that had previously languished as surface parking for decades. The design bridges two distinct neighborhood characters: the mid-20th century red-brick tower-in-the-park public housing to the north and west, and the extensive fabric of 19th and early 20th-century low-rise masonry row-houses and small apartment buildings to the south and east. The Carolina resolves these contexts through massing, detailing and cladding choices that evoke the basalt cliffs of the Palisades presiding over the city.
The stepped, serrated plan responds to zoning, context and community needs while overcoming the oversimplification of form so often seen in block and precast concrete plank construction. The 475,000-square-foot development enlivens the neighborhood and stitches together its multiple contexts, anchoring a long block with two major social service organizations (37,000 square feet), a large commercial space (4,000 square feet) and two residential lobbies. The experience from the street is carefully detailed and choreographed, where a staggered street wall with subtly changing colors and textures plays off building entrances and planters to break up the building’s scale and provide a rich pedestrian experience.
The Carolina exceeds the ambitious goals of Enterprise Green Communities with Housing Prevention and Development overlay standards, providing 28% savings below a merely code-compliant building. The building includes efficient building systems, ENERGYSTAR or equivalent LED light fixtures, ENERGYSTAR appliances, water-conserving features, continuous exterior insulation, individual exhaust fans in every apartment, and durable and sustainable materials specified throughout.
The Carolina’s community facilities include the Northside Center, providing early childhood and school-aged behavioral health prevention and treatment programs; and Union Settlement, which serves as an on-the-ground social service resource for East Harlem residents. The presence of these organizations provides benefits to residents, the broader neighborhood of East Harlem and the greater city.