PAL Harlem Community Center

New York, New York

The PAL Community Center is an educational and recreational facility for a marginal neighborhood that needed a “lift.” Security was a major factor for the client, as well as a seemingly contradictory desire for an open, welcoming appearance.

The design includes a multicolored block facade with “false” red windows at the base that become true windows near the secure ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY1,455COST PER SQ FT$204.69FEATURED IN1999 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized and the upper floors. The primary colors are reflective of the other two PAL centers previously designed by the architect, using bold shapes and primary colors to establish an identity even though the overall architecture varies for each building and site.

While this is an inner-city facility and may anticipate heavy usage, long-wearing materials and durable furniture were chosen for construction. The furniture, banners and all signage were designed to be compatible and as bold as the architecture. The northeast corner is designed as a lantern, with a glass block and skylight at the top of the red peak to anchor this once-desolate corner. This also brings light into the corner rooms.

The confetti-like sprinkle of windows, some on a 45-degree angle, green-glazed blocks and glass block, which seem whimsical on the exterior, reinforce visual axes on the interior in rooms, such as the Educational Resource Center and classrooms. A once-abandoned site has become the preferred gathering spot in central Harlem.

Photographer: ©Jeff Goldberg/Esto Photographics