2011 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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The Schermerhorn | Notes of Interest

Developed by Common Ground Community in cooperation with The Actors’ Fund, the building provides supportive housing for single adults transitioning out of homelessness, persons living with HIV/AIDS, and low-income residents, with a preference accorded to those employed in the performing arts and entertainment industry.

The design creates a new paradigm for urban, supportive housing in response to unique site conditions. Four steel trusses cantilever the building over subway tunnels located directly below the site. Set atop this structural platform, the building’s exterior identity has evolved to express the rigorously ordered program within, and to address the contrasting character of the neighborhoods to the north and south.

The building’s primary northern façade, composed of five translucent channel glass tower elements rising from a transparent glass base, presents a dignified, luminous presence to the dense urban fabric of downtown Brooklyn; the south façade hovers above a landscaped roof terrace on the second level that provides a transition to the low-scale residential neighborhood beyond. Sustainable design principles have informed the selection of systems and materials for the project.

The building’s channel glass façade is fabricated with a high percentage of post-consumer waste glass and Low E glazing to enhance overall thermal performance. Additionally, the second floor “green” roof terrace serves to minimize heat island effect.

Additional Credits

  • Acoustics: Shen Milsom & Wilke
  • Cost Estimating: Accu-Cost Construction
  • Engineer, Civil/Geo: Langan Engineering and Environmental Services
  • Engineer, MEP: Flack + Kurtz
  • Engineer, Structural: Robert Silman Associates
  • Expediter: Design 2147
  • General Contractor: Marson Contracting Company
  • Graphics: H Plus
  • Specifications: Construction Specifications
  • Theater: Harvey Marshall Berling Associates
  • Photo Credit: © David Sundberg/Esto; © Albert Vecerka/Esto

The Schermerhorn

Jury Comments

They have maximized the use of this urban site; it was worth the clever and elaborate work with the foundation to capture a south-facing common area... thoughtfully planned.

This rises above the aesthetic previously associated with affordable living; this is architecture in which anyone would feel at home.

Each room is so cleverly designed – the project is almost ship-like in its ingenuity.

2011 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Katherine Austin, AIA, Chair
  • Katherine Austin Architect
  • Sebastopol, Calif.
  • Claire Conroy
  • Residential Architecture Magazine
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Jackson, FAIA
  • Historical Preservation Agency
  • State of Illinois
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Luis Jauregui, AIA
  • Jaurequi, Inc.
  • Austin, Tex.
  • Marilys Nepomechie, FAIA
  • Florida International University Miami
  • Coconut Grove, Fla.

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