Our Children’s Foundation is a non-profit organization which serves as an after school educational and recreational facility for the children of Harlem. This project consists of the complete renovation and an addition to a pair of industrial buildings, one on the street and one in the back of the site with a minor connection at ground level. With minimal new construction, we enclosed the void between the front and back creating an atrium and 2 stairs - the stairs functioning as both fire stairs and general vertical circulation. The design is organized around the new atrium that has south facing clerestory windows and is shaped to draw light deep into the building interiors. The atrium extends from the second to the third floor with a link to the ground floor through 3 glass portals in the atrium floor. An open bridge in the atrium connects administrative spaces with activity spaces and provides a place to view to events on the lower level.
The program called for a number of general use classrooms and larger multi-purpose areas. These instructional areas were designed with numerous visual links to maintain an informal level of supervision. The everyday operation consists of afterschool homework then classes in a variety of subjects including computers, music and dance, with occasional assemblies and performances that bring in the community at large. The project is designed for the future addition of a gymnasium on the roof – all building systems and egress routes were calculated with this addition in mind. The construction was funded by The State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, one of the few preventative funding strategies of this agency.