David Adjaye's Sugar Hill housing
nears completion in Harlem


News: construction is almost complete on a David Adjaye-designed affordable housing complex in New York's Sugar Hill district featuring a facade embossed with floral patterns (+ slideshow).

Sugar Hill housing by David Adjaye

The Sugar Hill Development – located in the district of Manhattan made famous by rappers the Sugar Hill Gang – is designed by Adjaye Associates to provide 124 affordable housing units, preschool education facilities and a children's museum.

Sugar Hill housing by David Adjaye

David Adjaye described the building as a "new typology for affordable housing" and expressed his enthusiasm at engaging with "the cultural, social and physical fabric of Harlem".

"My hope is that the building – perched high on Coogan's Bluff – will offer a symbol of civic pride and will be a valued new resource for the neighbourhood," he said.

Sugar Hill housing by David Adjaye

Located on West 155th Street, the 13-storey structure features a facade of precast panels embossed with images of roses, in reference to the surrounding "heritage rose" district. These are designed to sparkle as the sun catches them.

Sugar Hill housing by David Adjaye

The building steps backs at the ninth floor to create a three-metre wide terrace on one side and a cantilever on the other.

A landscaped plaza will form the entrance, while additional terraces will be available to residents on the second and third floors, as well as on the roof.

Sugar Hill housing by David Adjaye

Other buildings by David Adjaye currently under construction include the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, which is scheduled to open next year.

See more architecture by David Adjaye »

  • Jon Jorgensen

    A scaleless monster covered in mould.

  • TFO

    A rose pattern? More like a ruse.

    While I grant that this is a limited series of images describing this project, I’m extremely fearful of what I see. This is affordable housing from the last century, draped with a token gesture of modern concrete casting tech.

    Wow. I would have never expected this from Adjaye.

    • Richard Montena

      Yes, disappointing!

  • D

    I wonder what the interior looks like.

    • John

      Thank you! Where are the photographs of the interior!?

  • Matt

    It’s hard to comment without seeing plans or interior shots, but to the casual observer these look like prison cells. Or designer plattenbau.

  • Nick

    Welcome to the world’s first children’s museum dedicated to fear and crying.

  • Corneel

    Looks like a prison or a dystopian spaceship. I don’t think anyone could look at this building and be happy to call it home.

  • Just the facts….

    Who wants to call it home? “Nearly 50,000 applications have been received for 98 apartments.”

    • dbp IAIA

      Would be interested in the cost of this “low income” building and photos of interior spaces.

    • Concerned Citizen

      It’s New York, what other choices are there?

  • yupi

    Knock it down and start all over please.

  • Rae Claire

    Applying to live there and really wanting to are not necessarily the same! Looks more like scars from artillery fire than roses.

  • nesna

    Another carbuncle of the worst kind of 1970’s precast concrete for “free” Americans who only asked for shelter.

    An architectural design disgrace of the 21st century. How it passed Harlem’s planning and review board highlights it is an affirmative action commission of pain ridden tolerance. Adjaye, this is a damn annoying and expensive eyesore.

  • Olgiati

    Is David Adjaye the most overrated architect ever? Gets worse with every building.

  • Stephen

    In case we didn’t already know, Adjaye should stick to one-off houses.

    This terrifying bad dream seems to have been inspired by George Orwell. Not really appropriate outside the world of fiction. Why can’t more housing architects be a bit more humble (like for example any number of Swiss firms or Sergison Bates in the UK).

    Not everything has to shout “look how good an architect I am!” And most of those that do actually say the opposite.

  • bonsaiman

    Scary and nightmarish.

  • trysca

    I ponder what they look like from the inside looking out. I suppose it hardly matters.

  • stefan

    I’m quite sure this is the worst and least inviting housing I’ve seen in a long time. Really stupid to think that putting a floral pattern on it makes it a nice place to live.

  • mike

    Couldn’t they find any smaller windows?

  • Dennis Paphitis

    An architectural crime against humanity, why?

  • Richard Montena

    As Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have quipped, “doctors can always bury their mistakes.” :(

  • Concerned Citizen

    Roses, drawn by someone who has never seen flower.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Is Clinton on the review board?

  • Three dimensional anxiety. Are the unit plans that bad too?

    • k0n

      Look at ArchDaily’s article on this development for floor plans. They look pretty good actually.

  • T. Wright

    Have any of you actually been there? From what I know, the building isn’t even finished.

  • showmetheview

    Weak architects rely on patterns and screens (at the expense of glazing). Within a month, otherwise healthy tenants will be yelling at their children, beating their spouses and kicking their dogs.

  • WaxWing

    Damn you David Adjaye, damn you for this!

  • John Ellis

    Sugar Hill Gang? They’re from NJ. Here’s the Sugar Hill history: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/realestate/sugar-hill-rich-in-culture-and-affordable.html