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Harlem, NY


Harlem Children's Zone


American School & University – Citation 2014


Metals In Construction – Spring 2015

American School & University – 2014

Promise Academy I is the largest school built for the Waiting for Superman documentary hero, Geoffrey Canada and his Harlem Children’s Zone® (HCZ) initiative. Inspired to change the odds for a community that historically had the least resources and most challenges, HCZ and partners sought a site for the project within the St. Nicholas Houses public housing development in central Harlem.


Set deep within the “super block” created for the housing development, the project’s site is easily accessible to the community the school is meant to serve. By re-establishing 129th Street into the city grid, a street entrance for the school was feasible and St Nicholas Houses was reintegrated into the surrounding neighborhood.


A fresh approach to the exterior materials was planned for the school to offset the red brick residential high-rises.  The light, neutral shades of the progressive two-toned stacked bond brick pattern on the lower level and the bold colors of the entry canopy and storefront entrance create a lively and welcoming presence on the street.  A unitized aluminum rainscreen system designed for the upper floors allowed for the rapid enclosure of the building envelope and due to its off-site fabrication, concurrent to the erection of the superstructure, the tight construction schedule was met.

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