The Greg Jackson Center for Brownsville is an 18,000 SF community hub for an economically challenged but vital Brooklyn neighborhood. Occupying an existing medical center building and the adjacent parking lot, the project will house a new community center as well as offices for three community-based non-profits and a flexible workspace for local entrepreneurs.

The ground floor community center acts as the public heart of the building, housing a cafe, performance space, and community garden in lieu of the former parking lot. New glazed openings on the facade of the building serve to connect the interior programs to the garden, effectively doubling the size of the community center during warmer months. A new canopy structure extends from the garden and in through the cafe, popping out again in front of the building as an entry canopy, unifying the entire composition and providing a visible identity for the hub as a whole.

The shade structure and fence will be made from a metal screen with a custom waterjet-cut perforation pattern that at once allows maximum visibility into the garden and becomes part of the identity for the center and its inhabitants. An existing window opening at the fourth floor, which houses the main offices of the Brownsville Partnership, the non-profit that runs the center, is expanded and given a similar material treatment to the canopy to signify its connection to the ground floor programs.

BA is providing full architectural services to the project, from programming to execution. The rehabilitation of the century old building required substantial pre-construction investigation and coordination. In addition to design, the project’s scope included the development of an intricate phasing and approvals strategy to meet the client’s space needs and financing capabilities.

BA was also charged with the design of the offices for the Brownsville Partnership. Using a palette of cost-effective, yet fun and tasteful materials, a narrow floor plate with little natural light will be transformed into a clean and active collaborative work environment. BA has proposed expanding one of the windows along the south facade both to allow more light and to provide a beacon to the neighborhood signaling the connection between the fourth floor offices and the ground floor community center.

The floor plan allows easy and open circulation from the front office space to the back, while allowing for needed privacy and security from the building’s main circulation core. The materials selected for the floor provide an element of warmth and softness in various forms, from oak flooring to colorful homasote and markerboard walls that allow the occupants to reclaim those surfaces as their own.