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Harlem Hospital Center - Mural Pavilion

Lead DesignersKenneth Drucker
Prize(s)Silver in Architecture Categories / Institutional, Gold in Architecture Categories / Urban Design
Entry Description

The 192,000-square-foot Harlem Hospital Center creates an efficient healthcare campus unifying previously disconnected structures spread over two city blocks. Forming a new front door to the hospital, a light-filled atrium and a dramatic, five-story, historically significant mural welcome visitors and establish a strong community connection.

With a focus on patient-centered care, the Mural Pavilion integrates the hospital’s emergency department, operating rooms, diagnostic and treatment facilities, radiology and critical care beds. The expansion will meet the community’s growing needs for key clinical services, including surgery and ambulatory surgery, dialysis and a range of invasive procedures, such as endoscopy and cardiac catheterization.

The building’s sustainable design features include a high-performance curtain wall, optimized performance mechanical systems and low-emitting finishes, including paint, carpet, resilient flooring, adhesives and sealants.

The iconic mural on the exterior of the Mural Pavilion illuminates the history and culture of Harlem while showcasing the hospital’s prominent role in the community. Design studies examined the abstraction of the mural image using patterns generated from West African woven basket and fabric textures to layer complexity and porosity to allow for light and views through the glass.

Soaring 65 feet high and spanning a city block, the colorful 12,000-square-foot glass façade mural depicts excerpts from the story of the African diaspora, creating a dramatic frontispiece for the Harlem institution. African-American artist Vertis Hayes created the “Pursuit of Happiness” mural in 1937 as part of the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) program that commissioned artists during a period of significant unemployment. A permanent art gallery houses the complete “Pursuit of Happiness” mural with works of other WPA artists from the 1930s in adjacent galleries.

Through its celebration of Harlem’s historic cultural context, the hospital is designed to welcome and serve the diverse community of cultures represented in the local community.