SARATOGA AVENUE COMMUNITY CENTER
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Architect & Designer: George Ranalli
Project Architect: Mario Gentile
Project Team: Olivier Calderari, Brock Danner, Price Harrison, Fran Leadon
The New York City Housing Authority commissioned the renovation of an existing community facility in an 18 story, Brooklyn housing-block building and a 3,500 sq.ft. addition to that facility. The project included the renovation of the existing 1,500 sq. ft. on the ground floor of the existing building converting the space to a more useable and finished space for the recreational programs sponsored by city agencies. Attached to this, we were asked to add a new meeting room, kitchen, bathrooms, and a new directors office. They were to be added at the north side of the site as this is in proximity to the existing community center.
The strategy for the project was to add a large masonry building to the eastern edge of the site. This block is connected to the existing building by a long hall perforated with doors and windows for entry and light. The directors office was added as a small mass on the west side of the large room. The building was designed in masonry units which give a density and massive quality to the new structure. The wall is perforated with an array of windows and doors for light and view. All details of the edge of the walls are covered with a cast masonry detail to protect the cavity of the construction. There are two main landscape spaces on the site. The first is a small space off Hancock Street which is adjacent to an existing sitting area. The second outdoor room is a larger terrace space adjacent to the entry doors and the main window door configuration of the assembly room.
The design of the building is a reevaluation of the idea of public construction seen as durable, strong, and permanent. In the composition of the plan, the social spaces of the landscape as well as the interior volumes of space are designed to work in concert with each other as places of public assembly at the large and small scale range. Each space is connected to the adjacent one so that there is a flow and movement between each which anticipates the programs and events that will ultimately become its history.