The Lower East Side has a new community center and fitness facility to call its own thanks to a $55 million renovation conceptualized by Platt Byard Dovell White Architects. The new home of Educational Alliance, a leading New York City social services provider, transforms a 122-year-old building at 197 East Broadway into a light and life-filled hub for cultural activities and learning for people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels. NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and members of the Educational Alliance Board of Trustees will be cutting the ribbon on the new Manny Cantor Center this afternoon, but if you'd like to sneak a peek before that, flip through our photo tour of the 103,000-square-foot green facility and gym.
“The Manny Cantor Center’s state-of-the-art facilities have the incredible opportunity to serve the Lower East Side community in a way that speaks to its enormously diverse, creative and vibrant population,” said Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Executive Director of the Manny Cantor Center. “We want to create a hub wherein people can feel welcomed and enriched and where they can also give back. We look forward to seeing what our community can accomplish in this shared space together.”
The facility, which is named after the father of Richard Cantor, the former Chair of the Educational Alliance Board of Trustees, is much more than just a building where people can go to participate in activities. Educational Alliance chose the name with the hope that those who enter will gain the tools and ambition necessary to live an American Dream similar to that of Manny Cantor, who immigrated to the United States from Poland to become a successful businessman. As such, much of the center’s programming, which ranges from early childhood education, to college access and success courses, to the Educational Alliance’s renowned art classes, to holistic senior adult programs, is offered on a sliding pay scale. Even the 7,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness center, which is one of the only gyms in the area, has an inclusive membership model with reduced prices available for lower income members. Click here to learn more.
“As a Lower East Side parent with a child who’ll be attending preschool classes at the Manny Cantor Center, I look forward to using the new facilities to connect with other parents and to interact with my neighbors,” said Alan van Capelle, who recently succeeded Robin Bernstein as President & CEO of the Educational Alliance. “This is an exciting and transformative moment in the history of the Educational Alliance and for the Lower East Side community at large.”
Platt Byard Dovell White Architects designed the center with an eco-conscious plan that aligns with its socially conscious ethos. The structure was recently awarded LEED Silver certification thanks to its reuse of the original building, thermally efficient windows, energy-efficient insulation, controllable lighting and occupancy sensors, and an efficient mechanical system comprised of a condensing water loop and heat pump units dedicated to conditioning the various zones in the facility. The health and well-being of the occupants was also a major factor in the renovation. “One of the most important considerations of the design was to provide program spaces with as much access to natural light and views to the exterior as possible,” architect Simone Ghetti told us.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Manny Cantor Center will take place today at 197 East Broadway at 4:30 – 7 pm. In addition to celebrating its vibrant new hub, Educational Alliance is observing its 125th year of serving NYC communities this year.