DINKINS GARDENS: Harlem’s First Affordable Green Housing
Spring is off to a fresh start in New York as Harlem’s first affordable green community blossoms to life. Situated on West 153rd Street, David & Joyce Dinkins Gardens offers 85 units of affordable housing in addition to a 25,000 square foot youth center and a community garden. Jonathan Rose Companies and Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement developed the $19.5 million community to help repair the “physical, economic, cultural, and spiritual fabric of the neighborhood.” Towards these goals the project has kept costs low while integrating a noble set of social and environmental ideals governed by principles of diversity, interdependence, and environmental responsibility.
Not all green buildings are glossy glass superstructures and high-profile modern marvels. Impressive architecture aside, the common root of these structures is the people they serve, and the future that they guarantee. Jonathan Rose Companies are thoroughly dedicated to this civic imperative of architecture, stating their mission “to repair the fabric of cities, towns and villages, while preserving the land around them.” They specialize in developing healthy communities that are geographically and socially diverse, mixed-use, mixed-income, and transit-accessible.
Jonathan Rose has said that “Green projects like these are tremendous investments in the future of the community. By integrating social services, job training, affordable housing and green design, we’re modeling what the future of Harlem and New York City – in fact, cities nationwide – can be.”
Dinkins Gardens utilizes an impressive array of forward-thinking green strategies to promote energy efficiency, conservation, and quality of life while taking advantage of the economic benefits of of green architecture to keep living costs down for residents. The structure is composed of nontoxic, recycled, and locally made materials and features south-facing solar shades and a green roof, both of which help regulate temperature. The roof also has a rainwater harvesting system that funnels water from the roof into storage tanks for the garden’s irrigation. Inside, efficient energy systems abound with copious use of natural daylighting, energy star rated appliances and light fixtures, and a high efficiency boiler.
With recent news that green buildings are becoming increasingly profitable, it’s great to see projects like this that keep costs down while balancing a sound social and environmental approach. Encouraging vital, eco-friendly communities such as this is a sure step towards ensuring a sustainable future.
Photos: Ruggero Vanni
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