The Studio Museum in Harlem

Harlem, New York, USA

  • Status
  • Area
    7,896 m² / 85,000 ft²
  • Category
    Civic, Culture
  • Design Architect
    Adjaye Associates
  • Architect of Record
    Cooper Robertson
  • Client
    The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Construction Manager
    Sciame Construction LLC, with McKissack & McKissack
  • Awards
    NYC Excellence in Design Award, New York City Public Design Commission, 2018

Technical Info +

In designing the new building for 125th Street, education space and the space for artists’ studios are presented as a sort of triptych frame that holds the center body of the composition. - David Adjaye

This project pushes the museum typology to a new place, with a fresh approach to the display and reception of art. It also carries a powerful urban resonance. The design includes a stepped area or “reverse stoop” at the front that leads down to the museum, creating a generous public space – a feature born out of a desire for the museum to be as open and accessible from the street as possible. Inspired by the masonry architecture of Harlem and its rich artistic and cultural landscape, the design distinctly plays on familiar architectural tropes of Harlem, such as frames, apertures and doorways. The scale of the reverse stoop considers the soaring cathedral-like interiors of local churches.

The museum offers a collage of stacked volumes of differing sizes – both double and single height. The gallery spaces are carefully crafted to respond to contemporary artists’ needs for exhibiting a mix of two- and three-dimensional works, often of different scales. The galleries are additionally connected to the education spaces, forging a dialogue between viewing and creating art. The facade reveals the activity inside the building to celebrate the relationship to the street and the community.