We believe that smart public design is essential to nourishing New York’s cultural vitality.
Brooklyn’s Weeksville Heritage Center, completed in 2013, is a powerful example of design’s role in celebrating the city’s diverse cultural heritage. Built with more than $35 million in capital funding allocated by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, this site reveals the African-American history of its Crown Heights neighborhood while affirming the community’s present-day cultural dynamism.
At the heart of the center is an interpretive landscape that preserves historic structures from a 19th-century settlement of freed slaves, wrapped by a stunning building designed by Caples Jefferson Architects offering new spaces for exhibitions, performance, research, and education. The subtle use of African art and patterns enliven the site, including a Percent for Art commission designed by artist Chakaia Booker, while Elizabeth J. Kennedy’s landscape design highlights a former Native American footpath as another layer of this ever-evolving cultural canvas.
The Weeksville Heritage Center was honored with a 2005 Design Excellence award from the New York City Public Design Commission, a tribute to the project’s community-minded mission to bring the past and present into lively conversation.
Photo Credit: Caples Jefferson Architects