Date: January - April 2012
Studio: Architecture Design Studio IV
Team: Aly Andrews
Tools: Rhino, Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign
Park Avenue @ 125th | Harlem Workforce Development Program:
This project aims to serve the current underprivileged citizens of Harlem by occupying vacant properties along Park Avenue near the 125th commercial corridor and creating a network that intervenes minimally, while achieving maximum results of providing those in Harlem with valuable work skills that will help to make them more employable.
Harlem is a dynamic community that has struggled and flourished by its own means over the course of the last century. Harlem's citizens find themselves to be constantly disadvantaged with a struggling school system and the highest rate of unemployment within all of New York. Riots took place in 1965 to publicly draw attention to their disadvantages at completing high school and moreover being able to get a job. Since then, various initiatives and programs have sprung up, but very few are helping the root of the unemployment problem - a neglected education program and as a result, fewer marketable work skills.
New developments along the 125th corridor in Harlem have great economical intention, but the development will primarily serve people who don't yet live there, and is furthering the gentrification of Harlem. REACTivate [Harlem] would address those currently living in Harlem by making them a catalyst for betterment and development for the neighborhood.
By analyzing the vacancies along Park Avenue they can be categorized into 7 typologies of vacancies. Each unit, building and lot differ from one another, and each suit some programs better than others. Looking at the citizens of Harlem's desire an need for improved employment skills, each skill can be associated with a typology and then be implemented in many instances where this typology repeats itself in Harlem, and ultimately in other cities and neighborhoods around the country.
Initially one storefront would be revamped to create an office and recruitment center from the program. The current owner of the vacant property they are not leasing would temporarily hand it over for REACTivate to redevelop and turn into a central office as well as host a few classrooms. At the end of the start-up period, that property would be returned to the owner with increased market value and a new storefront elsewhere would be developed to start the next phase of the workforce network. A set of criteria is created to determine in which neighborhoods and cities this program could also be successful. This workforce program thrives on the ability to intervene minimally, while achieving maximum results of providing those in Harlem with valuable work skills that will help to make them more employable.