Built in 1863 as a five-story cheap rental building, 97 Orchard Street is the heart of the Tenement Museum. Before the museum’s 1988 establishment by Ruth Abram and Anita Jacobson, previous owners sealed the upper floors of the building, encapsulating an urban artifact that is a testament to 7,000 people who called it home, passing through its walls on the way to a promise of a better life in America. Charged with envisioning and executing a master plan in 2006, Perkins Eastman expanded the museum to enhance its programming and exhibits. The design team started by opening, stabilizing, and restoring upper floors and recreating the 1869 home of an Irish immigrant family. Throughout the design process, the team collaborated with the museum to develop a forensic approach to the existing structures and historic fabric, balancing them with distinct modern interventions. As funds were raised, the work expanded to include additional exhibits showcasing tenement life of the late 19th century. At 103 Orchard Street, Perkins Eastman designed a welcoming, multi-functional visitor center for the museum and converted additional floors to house educational space, museum offices, and 20th century exhibits with authentic interiors. Attracting visitors of all ages, the Tenement Museum now serves as a cultural anchor for the city and a community resource for its neighborhood.
While Perkins Eastman was working on this project, its Frank studio for experiential graphic design handled the signage and graphics. Read more about that related work here.