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New Sugar Hill Building to Combine Children's Museum and Affordable Housing

By DNAinfo Staff on October 2, 2010 4:57pm  | Updated on October 4, 2010 6:02am

By Yepoka Yeebo

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — A Harlem artist, superstar architect and affordable housing group have joined forces to create a new museum and housing project in Harlem.

Artist Faith Ringgold and Broadway Housing Communities have joined forces to create 124 affordable housing units and a Children's Museum of of Art and Storytelling overlooking the Harlem River on 155th street in Sugar Hill.

The building, perched on Coogan’s Bluff and slated to open in 2012, is described as a stack of gray-purple cubes, and will be home to the 18,000-square-foot museum, which will include performance space, a shop, cafe, media center and library.

"I grew up in Sugar Hill in the 1930s and 1940s, it was full of fabulous people," said Ringgold in an interview with DNAinfo.

"To have a children's museum in the same place is a privilege and an honor," said Ringgold, 80, who still owns the apartment she grew up in, down the block from the site of the museum.

"Children make art, see art and experience art," she said. "Children everywhere in the world are wonderful artists."

The artist, who is known for her painted story quilts, has pieces on display at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. She said she wanted to allow Harlem's children to explore their artistic sides while they "still have it in abundance."

British superstar architect David Adjaye designed the avant garde building. He was picked, according to Ringgold, because he understood the motivation behind a children's museum and affordable housing.

The British architect is known for closed, usually gray façades that hide the abundance of light and space within. He opened his New York office in 2007, and has since designed the Denver Museum of Art.

Broadway Housing bought the land on the northern boundary of Sugar Hill in January 2008, thanks to "generous philanthropic support," the group said.

The group still has a hearing before the City Council for approval on the plans on Oct. 13, and organizers hope to break ground by the end of the month.