2. Schermerhorn House

schermerhorn-house-terrace-brooklyn-green-leed-nyc-01Green terrace at Schermerhorn House (Photo: Ennead Architects)

Developing housing that reaches a high standard of sustainability and affordability requires a team effort.  This is exemplified by Schermerhorn House, a project in Downtown Brooklyn.

In the early 2000s the state of New York designated HS Development Partners, a joint venture of developers Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities, to redevelop a publicly owned parking lot located adjacent to the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station. The state required that affordable housing be provided as part of the new development.

The developers teamed up with non-profit supportive housing provider Common Ground (renamed Breaking Ground in 2015) and the Actors Fund of America to construct an 11-story building at 160 Schermerhorn Street with 217 units of affordable housing. The building houses a diverse population including low-income people working in the theater and other arts industries, individuals who are formerly homeless, and people living with HIV/AIDS or mental illness. The ground floor includes cultural performance and educational spaces occupied by the Actors Fund Arts Center and  Brooklyn Ballet.  Supportive services for the building’s special needs population are also provided on-site. Breaking Ground continues an ongoing role managing the building.

The design by Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnersip) features many sustainable features including a green roof terrace, energy efficient systems, extensive use of glass to bring in natural light, and use of recycled building materials. All of this was achieved with the added challenge that there are subway tunnels below a portion of the building requiring a cantilever structure at the foundation.

Schermerhorn House community space (Photo: Ennead Architects)

Financial support for The Schermerhorn came from a variety of sources.  These included public programs subsidizing low-income and supportive housing, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and indirect subsidy from market rate housing that Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities have been developing on other parts of the block.