Leong Leong and JCJ Architecture have completed the design of the Center for Community and Entrepreneurship, a new mixed-use community building for the non-profit organization Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). The 90,000-square-foot, seven-story hybrid building at the prominent corner of College Point Boulevard and 39th Avenue in Flushing, Queens, will include a community marketplace, public event spaces, a new business incubator, administrative offices for AAFE, and commercial office spaces.
"The goal of the project was unique from the start—How can we create a vertically-integrated community for Flushing that links together work, events, and the public? We are in new paradigm of urbanism where the interconnectivity between spaces of collaboration and the city is critical. The design integrates a multiplicity of uses within a singular urban form," says Chris Leong, partner at Leong Leong.
The envelope of the building is a gradient of transparencies, maximizing visual connection at the street level while maintaining a distinct silhouette as an urban landmark from afar. The most transparent lower two floors contain the most public programs maximizing interaction with the neighborhood at street level. As the programs become more introverted at the upper floors the opacity of the curtain wall increases but still allows for views of the Flushing Creek waterfront to the West. At night, the sculptural form of the interlocking volumes will be expressed in the varying luminosity of the façade. A three-story open staircase functions as a vertical interface between floors encouraging collaboration and interaction among its varied users. At the ground floor, the staircase provides terraced seating for the public market. On the second and third floor, the staircase can transform into an event and performance space for screenings, lectures and other community-based events. “The informal spaces of circulation become primary spaces for interaction and exchange—we turned the architectural promenade into a social accelerator that blends public space and work space,” says Dominic Leong, partner at Leong Leong.
Since its inception in 1974 as an equal rights advocacy group, AAFE has worked tirelessly to provide support of all kinds to enrich the lives of Asian Americans and to others in need. Beginning with its roots in Lower Manhattan, AAFE has grown to become one of the preeminent housing, social service and community development organizations in New York City. "We believe this building will serve as a powerful resource—one that puts the public at its core—to serve AAFE's mission and growing community to its fullest potential. The Center is both a platform and emblem of the future development to come for Flushing," says Chris Leong. The building is expected to be completed in 2018.