Stephen L. Green StreetSquash Community Center
New York, New York
he popular after-school program, StreetSquash, now has a new home—the Stephen L. Green StreetSquash Community Center in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. The spacious, 18,000-square-foot facility, located on 115th Street between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard, is housed in a new residential building built by the development firm, L&M Equities.
With eight international squash courts, four classrooms, a library and locker rooms, the $2.9 million center opened for business in October 2009, and was named after Stephen L. Green, chairman of SL Green Realty, who is ranked second by U.S. Squash in the 45-50 category. While there are currently 160 StreetSquash participants, the new facility can serve 1,000.
Perhaps one of the most compelling features of the SL Green StreetSquash Community Center is the clever, eye-catching lobby light fixtures that are shaped like giant beehives, as well as the building's central stairway, which is a prominent glass-and-steel structure that not only serves as the main, architectural focal point in the facility, but as a gathering and viewing space.
The double-height daylit lobby has expansive views into the courts and provides a social area for students to wait for pickup. The lobby and courts are visible to passersby and give the popular facility a presence from the street.
All of the classrooms have access to natural light and are located remotely from the courts to provide a quiet learning environment. High-usage and public spaces were finished with cost-effective but robust and easily maintained materials. Decorative but functional lighting was used where it would have maximum impact, such as the main lobby. Less prominent spaces used more functional fixtures. The facility also features extensive use of glazing to allow easy observation by staff, improve wayfinding and promote a sense of community.
The StreetSquash program—founded in 1999 by George Polsky, a licensed social worker and competitive squash player—combines academic tutoring and college preparation with squash instruction, community service and one-on-one mentoring. Students are required to make a four-day-per-week, year-long commitment to academic excellence and the discipline of sports. To qualify as a StreetSquash graduate, students enter in the sixth grade and must complete seven years in the program.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.streetsquash.org
W H A T T H E J U D G E S S A I D
"This project really impressed me. It's a small project that is very well done. It is fresh, optimistic and has a wonderful social benefit to the community. It also proves that a project need not be huge to have a huge impact."
"Very 'clean' looking. Easy environment for study and sports."
"Like the sense of transparency from the circulation to the squash courts."
A S S O C I A T E D F I R M S
Engineering Consultants: AKF Engineers; LERA Consulting Engineers