Ironic Reuse: Aristocrat’s mansion is repurposed as affordable housing in Bronx

Long before the South Bronx, New York neighborhood of Morrisania was a predominantly low-income residential area, it was the Manor of Morrisania—the estate of aristocrat and signer of the Declaration of Independence Lewis Morris.

The facade of a recently opened affordable-apartment building there, designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, draws upon this history with the use of a rich color palette for a series of rhythmically patterned metal panels.

Paired with handsome gray brick cladding, the concrete block structure’s simple material treatment avoids the stereotypical affordable housing aesthetic. “People actually think it’s luxury housing,” says Alex Gorlin.

Designed to help improve the lives of high-cost users of health care, Boston Road provides 154 units for formerly homeless adults, many of them seniors and living with HIV/AIDS, as well as low-income working adults from the South Bronx.

The building¹s internal layout places equal emphasis on private rooms and communal spaces. Shared areas include multi-purpose rooms to accommodate social services and tenant meetings. In addition, there is a large patio and garden, a roof terrace, computer lab, exercise room, bicycle storage and laundry.

The waving ceiling of the lobby refers to the geology and topography of the site, where a large rock of schist stood exposed to the weather.

The building has been designed for Energy Star rating. Energy-efficient elements include a green roof and a building management system that regulates electrical, cooling, and lighting systems. Low and non-VOC content finishes are used throughout the interiors to provide a healthy environment for tenants.

See full Architectural Record article by Alex Klimoski.

See Alexander Gorlin Architects website.

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