With their first foray into supportive housing, Alexander Gorlin Architects was faced with the task of building 188 units in a 90,000 square foot space. Created for the Common Ground Community, a New York non-profit that assists the chronically homeless, The Brook offers onsite medical care, employment services, and psychosocial support. “They provide wonderful social housing,” said chief architect Alex Gorlin.
Intended to ease the transition for homeless and formerly homeless people to rejoin the workforce, the design of the building had to foster a sense of openness with social work staff while creating a sense of home and place for the residents. An entirely new project for Alexander Gorlin Architects – whose work spans high end commercial, luxury residential and range of retail efforts – the challenge lay in creating a building that maintained a sense of warmth and community while striving to achieve high quality in a modest budget.
Certain design quirks were instrumental in distinguishing the varied purposes of the building. Facing out to the street, geometric red concave terraces are streamlined and singular, and “symbolize the heart of the building, and act as a beacon of hope for the community.” Similarly, residential spaces and communal spaces are afforded equal consideration, ensuring high comfort levels for the often vulnerable residents. A courtyard to the rear is removed from the street frontage, minimizing noise pollution and offering residents a refuge from the urban bustle.
The project is also notable for its LEED Silver certification, with the inclusion of a green roof, non-VOC paint on the interior, and water-saving showerheads. The Brook also uses motion sensors to manage heating, cooling, and lighting, automatically switching off when a room is empty.