source: Davis Brody website
photography: Norman McGrath
Riverbend housing offers 624 apartments and duplexes, 250 parking spaces, 10,000 square feet of commercial space and two playgrounds atop parking garages. Providing middle-income housing in the heart of Harlem, the complex is massed to take full advantage of its location on the East River and provide attractive urban spaces.
The development of Riverbend encouraged an active street edge along upper Fifth Avenue, incorporating retail/commercial space at the perimeter, and closely related the buildings to the New York City street grid. Important to the project was the design of circulation spaces and the sidewalk/street life to increase a sense of community. To this end, the duplex units are linked by exterior walkways and small outdoor terraces animate social spaces.
Like the firm’s other residential projects developed in the 1960s and 70s, Riverbend illustrated that high-quality design was possible within the constraints of public programs. Today, Riverbend remains an important landmark demonstrating that community spirit and identity can be achieved in dense, medium- to high-rise developments, as well as in traditional low-scale urban models.