Marcy Houses | Status: Study | Location: Brooklyn, NY | Timespan: 2013-2016 | Scope: Masterplan, 125 unit apartment building with commercial plinth and parking garage | Size: 33 acres and 91,000 sf | Budget: N/A | nominee Archiprix NL 2017 | download PDF



if anything is typical for the demographics of new York city, it is its character of enclaves. ethnic groups, but often also social economic homogeneous groups, are concentrated in adjacent neighborhoods. While higher level demographic data show a diverse, vibrant melting pot, small scale new York city is relatively segregated. This seems to work just fine in most neighborhoods.

unfortunately, this is not the case for the poorest new Yorkers. since the 1930’s, they have been housed in large-scale housing developments popularly referred to as ‘projects’. new York city housing authority (NYCHA) builds, maintains, and assigns these houses. The fact that they have a waitlist of over 200,000 families is an indication for its continuing relevance.

over 400,000 people live in these subsidized houses, divided over 334 developments. The majority of these neighborhoods are based on the Towers in the green scheme. They breathe modernism and a top-down urban design mentality. many of the projects are aging: 261 of the 334 neighborhoods are older than 30 years and are in need of extensive maintenance or renovation.

NYCHA keeps developing new buildings in addition to its minimal efforts in maintenance, but it does not demolish entire neighborhoods to make space for its utopian schemes anymore. recent proposals and plans consist of adding to the existing developments with infill. in most cases they give up a small parking lot or they annex an adjacent empty building lot. it shows that NYCHA endorses the need for densification of its current developments or at least finds it economically viable. 


We believe in architecture as a necessity, not merely as a luxury. We believe in the task of densifying our cities, to reduce the pressure on their surrounding open landscape and to help prevent urban spral. We believe in the strength of an historical layered city. We believe in the task of building socially and culturally diverse and inclusive cities: cities that respect their built heritage, but strive to make a place for everyone. We believe in the power of architecture to help to achieve this. 


The efficient entrance and egress system forms a architectural route through and over the existing building and along the new courtyards.

The transparant plinth alllows daylight to penetrate deeply into the courtyards.    

Diagram showing the main construction componens:
1. concreTe beams anD columns | 2. concrete system floor | 3. poured in place top floor | 4. floor finish | 5. prefabricated sandwich panel with brick veneer | 6. hidden leaders | 7. masonry | 8. concrete cover for leaders