Magnusson Architecture & Planning Completes Affordable Housing Residential Development MLK Plaza

Magnusson Architecture + Planning (MAP) has completed MLK Plaza, a 13-story, 167-unit, affordable residential building in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

It was one of the first developments to use the new Zoning for Quality Affordability regulation, which allowed for a rezoning of the property from manufacturing to residential.

The block-long development includes twenty-five (25) studios, fifty-seven (57) one-bedrooms, sixty (60) two-bedrooms, and twenty-four (24) three-bedroom units.

Financed with the City’s ELLA program, 100% of the apartments at MLK Plaza will be affordable to very low-income renters. Those residents will have access to recreation and community rooms, and a rear patio, as well as a gym at the seventh floor with an adjacent outdoor terrace. This market-rate style amenity space offers commanding views of the Manhattan Skyline and East River. Sharing the views – one of the building’s most inspiring features, is a key component in this design, and speaks to the effort to plan for an inclusive living environment.

“Affordable housing shouldn’t be low-quality housing,” said Fernando Villa, Principal, Magnusson Architect and Planning. “Good design should be a priority when creating housing to improve people’s lives. That’s the idea behind MLK Plaza.”

The gym and open terrace space are also part of active design interventions to encourage physical health. Not only is the on-site workout space clearly a convenient way to stay healthy, the 7th floor location is mid-way between the top and bottom floors, making it possible for more people to use the stairs. To encourage use, the stairwell was conceived with active design principals in mind, so double height landings and windows provide daylight and more views.

As a nod to the site’s past, MLK Plaza’s exterior design embraces the neighborhood’s industrial identity with dark gray brick and metal panels. The gold color of the panels, however, provides a bright counterpoint to that aesthetic and reflects both the material quality of this housing and the value of its mission. The gold swath at the 7th floor also aligns visually with the adjacent six-story buildings. This helps to set MLK Plaza more comfortably within the scale of the surrounding properties. Nestled within this band, is the cutout for the open-air terrace which helps break up long façade.

The fully-glazed, double-height corner lobby, framed by diagonal columns, provides abundant daylight to the ground floor and creates street-level illumination at night. A mural of the building’s namesake, painted by local graffiti artists Tats Cru, graces a lobby wall. Inside the apartments, hardwood floors warm the spaces and large windows flood them with natural light.

Committed to high standards for health and sustainability, the development was designed to achieve LEED Platinum.

Contact: Abby Addams