Weeksville Center

Weeksville Heritage Center by Caples Jefferson Architects in Brooklyn, a new structure and landscape, serves as the gateway to a 19th Century African-American Freedman’s Settlement.

Weeksville Heritage Center
The primary purpose of the new structure and landscape is to serve as a gateway to the historic houses on the premises – remnants of the 19th century free African American community of Weeksville – with state-of-the-art exhibition, performance and educational facilities, as well as to provide a green oasis for visitors and the local community.
Weeksville Heritage Center
Caples Jefferson Architects, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
The main lobby will include introductory exhibits, and leads to a gallery for changing shows, a lecture and performance space for 200, classrooms for visiting groups and for community education, and a library resource center for visiting scholars. Administrative offices are to be located on the second floor, and the cellar is to include archival storage space as well as a room for recording oral histories.
Weeksville Heritage Center
Caples Jefferson Architects, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York, 2013

The rolling mown field, and areas of wildflowers evoke the community’s agricultural origins. The old trail ‘Hunterfly Road’ disappears and reappears before the houses in a ‘ghost landscape’ extrapolated from old maps.

The landscape is the dominant element in the composition. This space creates a transitional distance between the historic houses and new center. Movement through the recreated farmland links the present to the past, between the now and the then.

In deference to the historic structures, the building is kept intentionally low, sited to protect the view of the old houses, while providing the broad portal gateway along the old Indian trail to the houses and long open views of the historic site through the transparent corridors.

Weeksville Heritage Center
Caples Jefferson Architects, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
The building enclosure consists of a composition of wood rainscreen, slate rainscreen, and insulated glass window walls and horizontal ribbon windows. The wood rainscreen consists of specially milled îpe boards, with open joints, attached to aluminum clips over a continuous air barrier. The slate rainscreen consists of 1-1/4” thick custom-cut slate panels mechanically attached to load-bearing metal studs with stone anchors, over a continuous air barrier. The laminated insulated glass roof includes a specially designed frit pattern, echoing African patterns, for solar shading.
Weeksville Heritage Center
Caples Jefferson Architects, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
The Weeksville Heritage Center organization maintains deep ties to the local community, including the 2400 residents of the neighboring Kingsborough Houses public housing development. During summer months, Weeksville hosts community farmers markets every Saturday and stages a free summer concert and film series. The new building includes a 40,000 square feet open landscaped area for community use.
Weeksville Heritage Center
Caples Jefferson Architects, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York, 2013

The new building project is targeting a Gold rating under LEED 2.1. The new building's footprint occupies only about one-fifth of the project site, a rarity within the five boroughs of New York City, allowing the major portion of the site to become open green space.

Buried under this landscape are seven drywells, providing on-site percolation of storm water, and 48 geothermal wells drilled to a depth of 470 feet. The extensive closed-loop geothermal well field serves eleven water-to-air heat pump air handling units, considerably reducing the new building's reliance on fossil fuels for heating and cooling.

In keeping with the overall design intention to create an open, accessible community space, all interior spaces are flooded with daylight, providing a multiplicity of views of the historic site and the surrounding neighborhood. 

Weeksville Heritage Center
Caples Jefferson Architects, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
All storm water drains to a drywall system on the grounds that allows for on-site percolation of all storm water. Low-flow plumbing fixtures are incorporated throughout the building, yielding a potable water use reduction of over 40%. Tracking of submittals during construction indicated that over 10% of all installed materials consisted of recycled content. Over 20% of all materials were manufactured locally, and 10% was harvested locally. The exterior slate cladding was sourced from a Vermont quarry 250 miles from the project site. Zero- or low-VOC materials and finishes were exclusively employed throughout the building interior.

Weeksville Heritage Center
Brooklyn, New York
Architect : Caples Jefferson Architects
Clients: David Burney, FAIA, NYC Department of Design & Construction; Victor Metoyer, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Pamela Green, Weeksville Heritage Center
Construction Manager: Hill International
General Contractor: Brickens Construction
Structural Engineer: Severud Associates
MEP Engineer: Loring Consulting Engineers
Civil & Geotechnical Engineer: Langan Engineering
Geothermal Engineer:
P.W. Grosser Consulting
Lighting Design: Berg-Howland Associates
Landscape Architect: Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects
Cost Estimating: Faithful + Gould
Acoustics & Audio Visual: Shen Milsom + Wilke
Theatrical Lighting: Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design
Building Department: Metropolis
Specifications: Heller + Metzger PC
Curtainwall: Gordon Smith Corporation
Sustainable Design & Commissioning : Viridian
Security: Ducibella Venter & Santore
Museum Programming: Dial Associates
Cost: $26,000,000

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