Breaking Ground, The Schermerhorn

Schermerhorn Cropped

Breaking Ground, The Schermerhorn

Schermerhorn House defines a new paradigm for supportive housing in New York City. Comprised of 189 micro-units, the building creates a community environment that furthers Breaking Ground’s goal of building safe, affordable, attractive and sustainable housing.

0317 Schermerhorn Facade1

We have designed the building to convey a sense of dignity and pride for all who will live here.

Susan T. Rodriguez, Design Partner
0317 Schermerhorn Sketch Crop

The building’s structural rhythm and textural quality express the interior organization of the program into small residential units. Twenty studio units and a suite containing four single room occupancy units with two shared bathrooms and a common kitchen define each of nine residential floors.

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The building’s two faces respond to the contextual duality to the north and south. Five translucent channel glass tower elements define the primary façade, providing a dignified luminous presence facing the dense urban fabric of downtown Brooklyn. 

The building’s channel glass façade is fabricated with a high percentage of post-consumer waste glass and Low-E glazing to enhance overall thermal performance. Additionally, the second floor green roof terrace serves to minimize heat island effect. Energy efficient systems and materials are incorporated throughout the building.

The south façade’s horizontal banding of glass and cement board panels hovers above a landscaped roof terrace on the second level, which effects a transition to the low-scale residential neighborhood beyond.

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0317 Schermerhorn Section Subway Crop

Visible from the street are four steel trusses, which cantilever the building over subway tunnels directly below, structurally isolating the structure. The panelized glass and aluminum façade minimizes the load on the trusses, while enhancing daylighting within the building.

High design for low-income housing.

The Wall Street Journal
0317 Schermerhorn Studio

At the ground level, retail and lobby spaces are visually open and accessible to the public, enlivening the pedestrian experience along Schermerhorn Street. Additionally, a flexible multipurpose room provides space for performances and community activities for tenants and the neighboring area. 

0317 Schermerhorn Lobby1
0317 Schermerhorn Meeting Room
0317 Schermerhorn Diagram
0317 Schermerhorn Hallway
0317 Schermerhorn Interior1

Housing single adults transitioning out of homelessness, persons living with HIV/AIDS and low-income community residents, with a preference accorded to those employed in the performing arts and entertainment, Schermerhorn House provides a comprehensive support system that helps people regain lives of stability and independence.


Brooklyn, NY
98,000 GSF
180 Studio Units, Nine Four-bedroom Suites, Community Rooms, Theater, Computer, Exercise, Tenant Services Offices (Medical and Legal Counseling, Job Training and Placement), Dance Studio Space


Design Partner
Susan T. Rodriguez
Management Partner
Timothy Hartung
Project Manager
Damyanti Radheshwar
Project Architect
Todd Walbourn
Technical Director
James Sinks
Charmian Place
Design Team
Benjamin Gilmartin, Kevin Miyamura, Harry Park, Melissa Sarko


  • 2012
    • Award of Honor, Society of American Registered Architects/National Council
  • 2011
    • AIA Tri-State Design Awards, Honor Award
    • John M. Clancy Award for Socially Responsible Housing, Boston Society of Architects
    • AIA National Housing Award, Special Housing
    • AIA New York State Design Award of Merit
    • Award of Excellence, Society of American Registered Architects/New York Council
    • Supportive Housing Network of New York, Outstanding Residence of the Year
  • 2010
    • Building Brooklyn Award, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
  • 2005
    • Housing Design Award Citation, AIA/New York


  • 2011
    • "AIA Housing Awards: 2011 Recipient" (Architecture Week, 4/1/2011)
    • "New DoBro Supportive Housing Opens" (Curbed, 10/25/2011)
    • "The Actors Fund Opens Doors of New Community Theater" (Broadway World, 10/26/2011)
    • Vinnitskaya, Irina. "Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce 11th Annual Building Brooklyn Awards" (Archdaily, 2/14/2011)
  • 2010
    • Bernard, Murrye . "Community Space is the Heart of Supportive Housing" (eOculus, 11/23/2010)
  • 2009
    • Appelbaum, Alec. "New Homes for a Varied Cast" (The New York Times, 4/24/2009)
    • Davidson, Justin. "Low-income? You're Kidding!" (New York Magazine, 2/22/2009)
    • Russell, James. "Schermerhorn Mixes Homeless, $2 Million Townhouses, Ballerinas" (, 9/14/2009)
  • 2008
    • Zacks, Stephen. "The Affordable Housing Complex" (Metropolis, 10/15/2008)
  • 2007
    • Casselman, Ben. "High Design for Low-Income Housing" (The Wall Street Journal, 12/28/2007)


Albert Vecerka/Esto, David Sundberg/Esto, Susan T. Rodriguez/Ennead Architects