Creating Space: The Building

Expressing the character of the community of The Studio Museum in Harlem, while advancing the institution’s global role, Sir David Adjaye’s architectural design for the institution’s new home takes its inspiration from the brownstones, churches, and bustling sidewalks of Harlem.

The masonry-framed windows of Harlem’s apartment buildings are echoed in the composition of a facade with windows of varying sizes and proportions. The neighborhood’s churches find a counterpart in a top-lit interior core with ample wall area for installing large-scale artworks and a central stair that provides look-out points from the landings. A set of glass doors, which can be opened in differing configurations, welcome people to descending steps that evoke the ubiquitous stoops of Harlem’s brownstones. The steps of this “inverted stoop” can be used as benches for watching lectures, performances, and films presented on the building’s lower level—or simply for relaxing in informal gatherings.

Galleries are configured in assorted proportions, scales, and floor treatments to accommodate the wide variety of works in the permanent collection and the many sizes and types of temporary exhibitions. Artworks will permeate the entire building—even outside the formal galleries—with artists’ projects and site-specific installations using virtually all public spaces. Studios for the artists in residence and education spaces will be located adjacent to exhibition galleries to facilitate exchanges with the community. Finally, a roof terrace will offer striking views of Harlem and the rest of the city.

In keeping with its commitment to the Harlem community, the Studio Museum has retained the nation’s oldest minority-owned design and construction firm, McKissack & McKissack, to ensure the project meets exacting goals for contracting opportunities with qualified minority- and woman-owned businesses and local workforce participation. The Studio Museum will seek LEED Silver certification for its new home from the U.S. Green Building Council.


A Look Inside the New Museum

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Exterior View from 125th Street Plaza

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Street Level View of Main Entrance

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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View of Main Entrance from 125th Street

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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View from 124th Street

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Cross Section Perspective from Lenox Avenue

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Welcome Center

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Second Floor Gallery

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Third Floor Double-Height Gallery

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Roof Terrace

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Roof Terrace

Courtesy Adjaye Associates

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Program Areas 
Interior exhibition spaces 15,140 square feet 
Artist-in-Residence studios 2,151 square feet
Roof terrace   7,953 square feet
Lobby and café areas  3,932 square feet
Public hall/gathering place   2,116 square feet
Education spaces   2,630 square feet

Adjaye Associates
Sir David Adjaye OBE, Founder and Principal in Charge
Joe Franchina, Associate Director of US Projects
Russell Crader, Project Director

Cooper Robertson
Scott Newman, FAIA, Partner
Erin Flynn, RA, LEED AP, Senior Associate
Jonathan Pietro, RA, LEED AP, Associate 

Sciame Construction, LLC
Joseph Mizzi, President & COO
Robert Ware, Vice President
Jay Gorman, Senior Project Manager

McKissack & McKissack
Julie Harris, Project Executive
Aissatou Bey-Agrecia, Director, Workforce Strategies & Initiatives 

Zubatkin Owner Representation
Andy Bast, Senior Principal
Don Williams, Senior Project Manager
Agata Siwiak-Vetter, LEED® AP, Project Manager