written by:
February 26, 2009
Originally published in A New Shade of Green
Thanks to a group of young Brooklyn architects, an immigrant neighborhood untouched by gentrification gets low-income housing with high ideals.
Modern low-income housing in Brooklyn
In the scrappy neighborhood of East New York, the design firm Della Valle Bernheimer built five buildings for low-income homebuyers.
1 / 6
Shahan and Junnatul Rastgir purchased one of the homes.
2 / 6
Amelia and Lynette Deroy have found a strong sense of community, in addition to first rate design, at Glenmore Gardens.
3 / 6
The homes were built for $108 per square foot using cedar paneling and corrugated aluminum arranged horizontally to correspond with the vinyl siding of neighboring homes.
4 / 6
Working in one of the city’s most crime-ridden areas, the architects tried to balance the neighborly bearing of traditional brownstones with the need for security.
5 / 6
Olateju and Bosede Ogunremi can look out on the street from the safe remove of a third-floor balcony.
6 / 6
Modern low-income housing in Brooklyn
In the scrappy neighborhood of East New York, the design firm Della Valle Bernheimer built five buildings for low-income homebuyers.

If you travel east through Brooklyn—beyond Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, and Brownsville—you eventually come to East New York. While the rest of Brooklyn is swept up in a giddy renaissance of bistros and brownstone renovations, East New York is home to some of the city’s poorest residents. This is the end of the line in more ways than one, a district of abandoned cars and Chinese take-outs with bulletproof glass.

Imagine the locals’ surprise at Glenmore Gardens, two complexes comprising five modern buildings with cedar–and–corrugated aluminum siding completed this spring on Glenmore Avenue and around the corner on Van Siclen Avenue. “Everybody stops and stares,” says Gary Gilchrist, an immigrant from St. Vincent who won a city lottery that allowed him to buy one of the homes for $329,000.
“The other day two ladies asked me, ‘What kind of a house is that?’ They’d never seen anything like it.”

Five years ago, New York asked for proposals to start replacing the dwindling stock of low-income homes. The winning bid came from Della Valle Bernheimer, a young Brooklyn design firm that co-developed the project in collaboration with ET Partners. “We wanted to find work for ourselves, but we also wanted to do something socially beneficial,” says Andy Bernheimer. Rather than design all five structures themselves, Bernheimer and his partner, Jared Della Valle, took the helm on two and assigned the other three to other young firms—Architecture Research Office, BriggsKnowles, and Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis. Della Valle likes to call it a “do-gooder Sagaponac,” referring to the subdivision of high-end homes by well-known architects in the Hamptons.

They agreed on a common mix of materials primarily comprised of fiber cement panels, renewable cedar siding, and recycled corrugated aluminum. The aluminum refers to the borough’s industrial past, and its horizontal pattern echoes the vinyl siding of neighboring homes. Each semidetached 2,200-square-foot home includes a small downstairs unit that can be rented out to help pay the mortgage.

Gilchrist and the other buyers were selected from more than 2,000 applicants. In the evenings they sit out on a modern version of the traditional Brooklyn stoop or gather in the generous family spaces configured around open kitchens. Like the best of the old Brooklyn neighborhoods, Glenmore Gardens is becoming a community. “We’re all drawing closer together,” Gilchrist says. “We’re neighbors now, no matter where we came from.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

burton residence concrete floors metal panel sliding outside
An easy construction process reduces any drama for a couple in California.
May 31, 2016
Modern outdoor deck with wooden ceiling and metal fence
Working with a limited footprint, a daunting slope, and killer views, architect Bruce Bolander went vertical with a secluded canyon house in Malibu.
May 31, 2016
Sustainable home with galvanized steel shed roof and siding
A rural house in Ontario doesn't fuss around and fits right in the surrounding landscape.
May 31, 2016
Modern prefab summer home in Madeline Island, Wisconsin
Prefab construction simplified the building process of this northern Wisconsin summer home, where all materials required ferrying across Lake Superior.
May 30, 2016
This unrealized plan reimagined the city’s downtown and included a large green area next to the capitol building and paths to bring people to the Delaware River
In her new book, Wild by Design, Margie Ruddick shows us how to get closer to nature.
May 30, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent joa herrenknecht berlin cstudio joa herrenknecht berlin loftsw livingr02 studiojoaherrenknecht 2015
Size doesn't intimidate this ambitious designer.
May 30, 2016
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation facade
Architect Gert Wingårdh creates a passionately outfitted vacation home for two midcentury furniture dealers on the western coast of Sweden.
May 29, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent driaan claassen cape town south africa ccourtesy of driaan claasen dualpage82
Driaan Claassen combines a variety of materials and a love of history to create distinct objects.
May 29, 2016
energy star dirk wynants extremis poperinge beligium sustainable farmhouse facade
The owner of an outdoor furniture company updates a 19th-century farmhouse.
May 29, 2016
Modern small sustainable weekend home with flat roof
Two linked 1,000-square-foot pavilions are greater than a sum of their parts.
May 28, 2016
inside out los angeles home barbara bestor hollywood outdoor facade charcoal paint pool
Architect Barbara Bestor transforms a Hollywood Hills home by opening up its interior to the site’s dramatic backyard topography.
May 28, 2016
right of laneway vancouver garden sliding glass western window systems door outdoor
A Vancouver garden blossoms alongside fresh development.
May 28, 2016
20160229 dgd highhouse 1777 1024x683
A toddler, a pup, and their parents fit onto a 16.5-foot-wide plot in an inner suburb of Melbourne.
May 27, 2016
rec
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 27, 2016
capitol gains seattle multifamily living dining room wassily chair chaise le corbusier cb2
Two Seattle architects design and build a dynamic multifamily structure on a formerly vacant lot.
May 27, 2016
modern beach house thatch roof living dining bar cart
By eliminating walls and incorporating a series of interior gardens, architect José Roberto Paredes creates an eclectic and inspired El Salvador beach house.
May 27, 2016
7
A two-story Eichler in San Francisco gets a freshening up.
May 27, 2016
Bathyard renovation in Madrid, Spain
In Madrid, Spain, Husos Architects renovate a turn-of-the-20th-century apartment for a client with dual passions: her houseplants and a nice, long bath.
May 26, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
May 26, 2016
starting over sturgeon bay facade tongue and groove new growth cypress  0
After a devastating fire, architect David Salmela designs a house to replace a beloved lakeside retreat in Wisconsin.
May 26, 2016
Modern home with brick base and cedar rain screen on top level
An architect reimagines an outdated brick garage by designing a graceful new family home atop its foundation.
May 26, 2016
sardenya lr 7
A renovation brings light and order to a Spanish flat, maintaining its standout ceilings.
May 25, 2016
pow 5 25 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 25, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent thom fougere winnipeg canada cthom fougere studio thom fougere saddle chair 2
Designer Thom Fougere plays with scale and typology to create playful furniture.
May 25, 2016
prs my16 0067 v001 1
In the worlds of architecture and design, we’re always looking for the best ways of supporting sustainable building practices. This awareness doesn’t have to stop at our driveways but rather, it can extend to the cars we choose to take us to the places we go each day. With Toyota’s 2016 Prius, the daily task of getting from point A to point B can now be experienced with a new level of efficiency, safety, and style.
May 25, 2016
mountfordarchitects western australia
On a narrow site in Western Australia, Mountford Architects makes the most of a tight spot—with an eye to the future.
May 25, 2016
San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016