SHoP Architects Unveils Mixed-Use Development Housing the Museum of Civil Rights in Harlem

In addition to the museum, two mixed-use towers will add nearly one million square feet of office, residential, and retail space in West Harlem.

What’s Happening: New York-based practice SHoP Architects submitted a draft scope of work for One45, a mixed-use development proposed for West Harlem. The two towers would rise nearly 360 feet each and comprise almost one million square feet of office, residential, retail, and public space. Most notably, the project will be home to the new Museum of Civil Rights (MCR).

The Download: MCR’s location feels symbiotic given it will stand on the same ground as the erstwhile Hotel Oga, a historic property that served as a prominent hub for African Americans during the Harlem renaissance. For the museum’s founder, the Reverend Al Sharpton, the project is the culmination of a longtime dream. Conceived in collaboration with Judge Jonathan Lippman, the MCR will focus its lens specifically on the civil rights movement in the northeastern United States and will include groups with histories of disenfranchisement beyond African Americans, such as Latinos, L.G.B.T.Q., Irish and Italian immigrants, and more.

Outfitted with interiors designed to reflect the neighborhood’s brownstone stoop vernacular, MCR will showcase a number of dynamic spaces such as a souped-up multimedia lab and content studio, a rooftop educational garden where classes on contemporary food systems will be taught among fruit trees and vegetable beds, a lobby and events space displaying a light installation featuring iconic protest slogans and portraits of legendary activists etched into frosted glass walls, and the stunning Harlem Forum atop the one of the towers offering programming, stadium seating, and panoramic views of Manhattan. Sharpton also plans to relocate the headquarters of his nearby National Action Network (NAN) to one of the buildings.

In Their Own Words: “There’s a whole lot of civil rights history in the North across the board, black, Latino, L.G.B.T.Q., that has not been told,” Sharpton said to the New York Times in a 2018 profile. “I want to build that landmark, and say this has been the struggle in the North. I’m going to build that before I die.”

Surface Says: The MCR’s focus on civil rights in the northeast will be a tremendous opportunity to dive deeper into the stories and histories of the movement while educating a new generation of social justice activists, and the museum itself will bring a welcome new cultural hub to Harlem.

All Stories