Leong Leong and JCJ Architecture have revealed the design for a mixed-use community building for the nonprofit organization Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). Over seven stories, the center addresses the organization’s need for work, events and public spaces.
The AAFE has existed since 1974 and works to provide a range of support services including affordable housing, counseling, financial assistance and community development to Asian Americans and others in need throughout New York City.
“The project is unique in that it is a hybrid of business incubator and public-serving community space for the local Flushing community,” explained partner Chris Leong about the new building. The 90,000-square-foot center intends to bring progressive design to the Flushing neighborhood, an area in the New York borough of Queens situated east of the LaGuardia Airport, a major transport hub for New York City.
For the design of the center, JCJ and Leong Leong have proposed a vertically integrated community in which “the informal spaces of circulation become primary spaces for interaction and exchange.” The design aims to turn the architectural promenade running throughout the building into a vertical interface blending public and work spaces.
In addition to designing a flexible program inside the seven-story building, the architects appropriately addressed the connection between the building’s collaborative spaces and neighborhood surrounding it. A sweeping outdoor plaza will connect a 5,000-square-foot public market to the street, while the second floor’s multipurpose event space offers the entire community a facility to hold meetings, exhibition, performances and more.
The third floor will comprise of Flushing’s first business incubator, a co-working space where local small businesses and start-ups will be encouraged to collaborate together to address some of the neighborhood’s areas of development. AAFE’s Flushing program offices will be located on the fourth floor and above, and more office spaces will become available to emerging and established businesses, bringing a new wave of companies to interact at the heart of the Flushing community.
Each of the four interlocking structures — all with accompanying outdoor terraces — corresponds to a distinctive program, from the public market space to the event space, the incubator space and the office space. The gradient facade is also a reflection of the public’s invitation to interact with each of the formal spaces, from the most public facilities near the ground level to the more private programs of the above floors. The transparency of the building engages the community with the architecture and the opportunities it presents for the development of new enterprises and initiatives in Flushing.
“This building will allow AAFE to reach its fullest potential, supporting our mission to generate small business opportunities, provide local services and foster community interaction,” concluded AAFE’s Executive Director Christopher Kui. “Every aspect of the project’s design has been shaped to ensure that this will become a vital hub for economic development in Flushing while creating an engaging statement about the values of the AAFE organization and our community.”
To see more information about the project, visit the Architizer project page for the AAFE Center for Community and Entrepreneurship.