Sara Zewde Collaborates with Adjaye Associates on Affordable Housing Redevelopment in Brooklyn

Rendering of people enjoying the outside area around the complex.

Image courtesy of Adjaye Associates.

Underutilized land in Brooklyn is slated to become home to hundreds of units of affordable housing surrounded by abundant public green space, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Sara Zewde will helm the design.

Zewde and her Harlem-based Studio Zewde will collaborate with Sir David Adjaye and Adjaye Associates to reshape 7.2 acres of the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center campus in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The redevelopment of such a sizable swath of land is part of New York State’s $1.4-billion Vital Brooklyn initiative. Launched in 2017, the initiative seeks to address inequities in some of Central Brooklyn’s most underserved neighborhoods, offering development plans scaffolded by eight integrated goals: open space and recreation, healthy food, education, economic empowerment, community-based violence prevention, community-based health care, affordable housing, and resiliency.

Zewde and Adjaye’s proposal for Kingsboro—chosen via a design competition—calls for 900 units of affordable and supportive housing as well as senior housing, with a set of apartments reserved for homeownership programs. The proposal also includes two new, state-of-the-art homeless shelters. Responding to Central Brooklyn’s status as one of New York’s most extreme food deserts, Zewde and Adjaye have grounded their proposal with a grocery store, which is expected to serve as a core commercial center. A 7,000-square-foot community hub will include a workforce training center, performance space, fitness facilities, classrooms, an urban farm and greenhouse, and other dedicated community spaces. There will be free WiFi access throughout.

Rendering of the complex.
Image courtesy of Adjaye Associates.

“The redevelopment of a portion of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center will bring more affordable housing to a community that desperately needs it, and the opportunities for healthier and greener living,” says Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president and Democratic nominee in the 2021 New York City mayoral election. “As someone who has long promoted the need to overhaul our local food system, I am particularly glad to see that this project will include urban farming opportunities to connect people to healthy foods and activities.”

With Zewde and Adjaye spearheading design, the project more broadly will be led by a development team composed of Almat Urban, Breaking Ground, Brooklyn Community Services, the Center for Urban Community Services, Douglaston Development, Jobe Development, and the Velez Organization. Next steps for designers and developers will include community engagement work with local stakeholders and community boards in the coming months. The project is expected to be completed in about four years.