The Studio Museum in Harlem Shares New Design by Adjaye Associates




Exterior View from 125th Street Plaza. Image via Studio Museum, courtesy Adjaye Associates

The Studio Museum in Harlem completed site preparation, and began foundation work in January, 2022 on the its anticipated 82,000 square foot building, located at the current Museum site at 144 West 125th Street. The new building, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson, will replace its century-old commercial building that they have occupied since the early 1980s.

The design is also one of the winners of the 36th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design, announced by Mayor de Blasio on May 23, 2018.

Moving along ~ slowly……

Taken April 12, 2023


Studio Museum construction in progress. Image taken November 17, 2022

While we wait, a temporary construction fence and sidewalk shed will be built around the site with  City Canvas spaces for temporary art installations created by ArtBridge and Studio Museum in Harlem. You might remember ArtBridge from their recent collaboration with The Chinatown BID and the gorgeous Chen Dongian: The Song of Dragon and Flowers street mural, and the current street mural in Inwood Park, Rep Your Flag by artist Andre’ Trenier (#60 in our November 2018 Roundup).

The Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the NYC Department of Buildings and the NYC Mayor’s Office announcement was posted November 28, 2018. First installations are anticipated in Spring 2019.

Below are a few illustrations of the Adjaye design for the new Studio Museum in Harlem.

Street Level View from 125th Street. Image via Studio Museum courtesy Adjaye Associates


Facade View from 125th Street. Image via Studio Museum courtesy Adjaye Associates

The Museum began winding down activities in its present building at the close of the January 7, 2018 exhibition.  Once closed, Studio Museum will “engage with a diverse group of cultural partners in the Harlem community through collaborative initiative inHarlem. Anticipated completion date is 2024.

Cross Section Perspective from Lenox Avenue. Studio Museum courtesy Adjaye Associates

From the latest Press Release ~ The design for the new Studio Museum provides:

  • an increase of approximately 115 percent in space for exhibiting art and conducting the Artist-in-Residence program, from the existing 8,050 square feet to almost 17,300 square feet,
  • an increase of some 47 percent in indoor space for education, public programs, and public amenities, from 6,340 square feet to more than 9,300 square feet,
  • and an increase in outdoor space of 105 percent, from 3,900 square feet to almost 8,000 square feet.  The 82,000-square-foot structure will have:
  • a lower level for presentations (lectures, screenings, performances, educational activities, etc.), a welcome center, a café, and public amenities,
  • and a roof terrace spanning the entire building.
Rendering of the Studio Museum of Harlem – Photo Credit David Adjaye Associates
Taking its cues from the brownstones, churches, and bustling sidewalks of Harlem, David Adjaye’s design provides the Studio Museum with a dynamic, sculptural facade that contrasts strongly with the surrounding commercial buildings. The building has a porous, welcoming presence at street level, a light- lled core that soars up through the entire interior, and a tiered public hall, which the architect has likened to an “inverted stoop” that invites people to step down from the street into a multiuse space that will be free and open to the public during Museum hours and used for presentations and informal gatherings.

The masonry-framed windows of Harlem’s vernacular architecture nd an echo in the rhythmic composition of the facade, with its textured, precast concrete and windows of varying proportions. The radiant, soaring volumes of Harlem’s sanctuaries nd a counterpart in the top-lit central hall, with its ample wall area for large-scale artworks and its switchback stair, which provides multiple lookout points from its landings. A wide set of pivoting glass doors, which can be opened in di ering con gurations, draws directly on the convivial bustle of West 125th Street by establishing a transparent secondary entrance that leads directly to the descending step/seats of the tiered public hall.

Galleries for temporary exhibitions and the Studio Museum’s unparalleled permanent collection are provided on the second, third, and fourth oors. An education center occupies part of the third oor, adjacent to a double-height gallery with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The fourth oor accommodates both an exhibition gallery and dedicated spaces for the signature Artist-in- Residence program, which puts the “Studio” in the Museum’s name. Sta o ces are located on the fth oor, and the roof is designed for use as a terrace and event space. Niches on the facade on both the 125th and 124th

Street sides of the building will display outdoor sculpture. Artworks will permeate the entire interior of the building as well—in the graciously proportioned formal galleries provided with ne-art temperature and humidity controls, and (for less sensitive objects) in the public corridors and common areas.

Interior View of Lobby. Image via Studio Museum courtesy Adjaye Associates

In an Event held in October, 2021, the Studio Museum in Harlem raised $210m to be used toward its new, five-story building, expected to open in 2024.

The artist Theaster Gates has been commissioned to create a site-specific artwork to be installed in the lobby.

Interior View of Public Hall. Flexible, tiered space that can serve as public hall for lectures, performances, or films, or an informal gathering place. Image via Studio Museum courtesy Adjaye Associates

David Adjaye was knighted by the Queen of England on her official birthday in June, 2018.

Take a look at the progress on Studio Museum’s neighbor to the west, the historic Victoria Theatre.

Take a look back at a Studio Museum in Harlem flyer from 1972 when the Museum was located on Fifth Avenue (below).

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1972.    Media usage CCO. Studio Museum in Harlem on Fifth Avenue, 1972 flyer

This flyer advertises November events at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The flyer is lime green with black text. The flyer reads [THE STUDIO MUSEUM in HARLEM / 2033 Fifth Avenue / (between 125th 126th Streets) / New York, New York 10035 / NOVEMEBER EVENTS / DANCE and JAZZ/ Sundays at 3:30 P.m> / Nov. 5 ALPHA OMEGA THEATRICAL DANCE COMPANY / Nov. 12 George Edward Tate’s BLACK MASSICAL MUSIC / Nov. 19 ELEO POMARE DANCE COMPANY / FIL SERIES: “The National Calling”/ Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. / Nov. 1 WHAT HARVEST FOR THE REAPER? / THE DUMPING GROUNDS / Nov. 8 BERIMBEAU / VOICE OF THE DRUMS / WE ARE UNIVERSAL / Nov. 15 MALCOM X: STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM / GANGA ZUMBA / Nov. 22 (CHILDREN’S EVENING) / ANASI/ THE MAGIC TREE / FAMILY GHANA / AFRICA DANCES / NoV. 29 FRELIMO / WEST AFRICA – ANOTHER VIETNAM? / For further information call the Education Department, 427-5990 / ADMISSION: FREE / Events made possible by Harlem-East Harlem Model Cities and the / Department of Cultural Affairs.] The back of the flyer is blank except for text written in the bottom right corner that reads [NOV / 1972].

Take a walk to the eastern part of 125th street and view progress on National Black Theatre/Ray Harlem.