Crown Heights

Weeksville Opens New Education/Arts Building Building

December 12, 2013 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The leadership and staff of Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC) in Crown Heights on Wednesday joined Borough President Marty Markowitz and other officials and community leaders to cut a ceremonial ribbon marking the completion of Weeksville’s new 23,000 square-foot Education and Cultural Arts Building.

The building, which will open to the public this spring, will enable Weeksville to significantly expand its education, programming and research capabilities.

Designed by Caples Jefferson Architects, the light-filled building features state-of-the-art exhibition, performance and educational facilities, and provides a green oasis for visitors and the local community. The main lobby will lead to a 700 square-foot gallery for changing art shows, a lecture and performance space for 200 visitors and classrooms for visiting groups and community education.

Administrative offices will to be located on the second floor, and the cellar will include archival storage space as well as a studio for recording oral histories. Environmental features such as geothermal heating and cooling have earned the building a LEED Gold-certified status.

Outside the building is a new 1.5 acre interpretive landscape designed by Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects. It includes a micro-farm and heritage-based botanic collection with plantings authentic to 19th century Brooklyn, and is highlighted by “Sugar In My Bowl II,” a sculpture by artist Chakaia Booker.

Funding for the $34 million project was provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the City Council and the Brooklyn Borough President’s office.  Design and construction for the new building were managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction.

“Today, we celebrate not only the completion of this beautiful, new building, but the fulfillment of a vision for Weeksville Heritage Center as a nationally-significant center for African American history and culture,” said Timothy Simons, chair of the Weeksville board of directors.

“Brooklyn has the largest African-American population of any county in America that is not its own city—and the borough was also home to one of the first free African-American communities in the nation—so it is indeed fitting that Brooklyn lead the way in creating the Weeksville Education and Cultural Arts building, a state-of-the-art center for African-American culture and history,” said Borough President Markowitz. “

Weeksville Heritage Center is a museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the 19th century free African-American community of Weeksville, Brooklyn. It uses several of the community’s original buildings.