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Sugar Hill homes in Harlem remodeled as art galleries, welcome new visitors

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The industrial-looking charcoal gray building that sits in Harlem on 155th Street and St. Nicholas is reintroducing itself to its neighbors in a creative new way.

The David Adjaye designed mixed-use building has met staunch criticism over its aggressively modern aesthetic in the historic Sugar Hill community, which is dotted with 19th century row houses and early 20th century apartment buildings.

The Silver LEED certified building  will include 124 apartments (70% to low income families and individuals), a rooftop farm and a children’s museum.  Now that the Sugar Hill Apartments project is basically finished (the children’s museum is still under construction), the developers are looking to say hello to the community with a softer touch.

Residents are expected to be able to move into the Broadway Housing Communities project by the fall of 2014, so instead of letting the finished units sit un-utilized, a diverse group of artists and art organizations contributed to a project called If You Build It. The ambitious endeavor was spearheaded by No Longer Empty, an organization that showcases socially conscious art in publicly accessible locations.

The unique art exhibit placed art from over a dozen individual artists into the soon-to-be filled units. Photography, video, multi-media installations, textiles and even maps were featured in the showcase. A diverse array of topics was explored, such as gentrification, beauty standards, stop and frisk, community building and  the role of architecture in urban spaces.

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