This 13-story affordable housing development in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx offers 167 apartments – 25 studios, 57 one-bedrooms, 60 two-bedrooms, and 24 three-bedroom units (plus a super’s unit) – all affordable to very low-income renters. Those residents have access to recreation and community rooms, and a rear patio, as well as a gym at the seventh floor with an adjacent outdoor terrace. This market-rate style amenity space offers commanding views of the Manhattan Skyline and East River. Sharing the views, one of the building’s most inspiring features, is a key component in this design and speaks to the effort to plan for an inclusive living environment.
The gym and open terrace space are also among design interventions to promote physical health. Not only is the on-site workout space a convenient way to stay healthy, the 7thfloor location is mid-way between the top and bottom floors, making it possible for more people to use the stairs. To encourage use, the stairwell was conceived using active design principals, so double-height landings and windows provide daylight and views.
MLK Plaza was one of the first developments to use the City’s new Zoning for Quality Affordability regulation, which allowed for a rezoning of the property from manufacturing to residential. The exterior design embraces the neighborhood’s industrial identity with dark gray brick and metal panels. The gold color of the panels, however, provides a bright counterpoint to that aesthetic and reflects the material quality of this housing. The gold swath at the 7th floor also aligns visually with the adjacent six-story building. This helps to set MLK Plaza more comfortably within the scale of the surrounding properties. Nestled within this band, is the cutout for the open-air terrace which helps break up the block-long façade.
The fully-glazed, double-height lobby, pulls daylight in and gives street-level illumination at night.A mural of the building’s namesake, by local artists Tats Cru, graces a lobby wall. Inside the apartments, hardwood floors warm the spaces and large windows flood them with natural light.
Committed to health and sustainability, MLK Plaza was designed to achieve LEED Platinum.
Client: Radson Development
Size: 176,000 SF
Number of Units: 167
For over three decades, Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP) has pioneered outstanding building design and urban revitalization projects as the foundation for vibrant and sustainable communities. Our top priority is to assist non-profit groups, municipalities, and developers to reshape neighborhoods to improve their residents’ quality of life. Decades after our firm was founded in 1986, we continue to reinvent the design of urban housing, mixed-use developments, and originate new approaches to planning urban neighborhoods.
MAP invests in creating positive outcomes. We walk the streets that residents walk, talking with them and listening to their ideas. By interacting directly with the users of our buildings and neighborhoods, we learn about the context and culture of their communities. More than just building spaces for people to live in, we design community.
We actively serve the Community through our dedicated Volunteering Program, which began in early 2015. Almost every month, a team of MAP staff, friends, and family dedicate their personal time to a project that revitalizes, completes, or improves the buildings we have designed. We focus on tasks that can involve the residents of the building, whether it is cooking a meal, painting a mural or planting a garden. As often as possible we bring together our team, our client’s team, and tenants to collaborate; in addition, we host ongoing food and clothing drives. MAP’s mission is to build sustainable communities through all our actions. Our client relationships allow our staff to engage in that mission beyond architecture and planning, and to spend time with the people who occupy and benefit from the spaces we create. We continue to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, one effort at a time.
Our most acclaimed project, the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Plan in the South Bronx, began as a pro bono effort. For 20 years, we replaced empty lots and abandoned buildings with over 1,000 new affordable housing units in a 30-block neighborhood. Ultimately, the new development has changed the destiny of local residents. To date MAP has designed and built nearly 20 properties in the master plan.
We don’t just revitalize neighborhoods – we also lead the way in transforming industrial and waterfront sites into attractive residential areas. MAP converted a former brewery site into Rheingold Gardens, an award-winning affordable and sustainable community.
We specialize in bringing people of different incomes together to collectively raise the standard of living for all. Atlantic Terrace – a mixed-income, mixed-use LEED-Gold certified building – offers sustainable and affordable housing in a diverse community adjacent to a major transit hub. Creston Avenue Residence provides new supportive housing integrated with social service provider Volunteers of America – Greater New York offices in a LEED-Platinum Certified Building.
In all of our projects, we provide new opportunities in the buildings we design, the streets we plan, and the neighborhoods we create.