With Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC) as its sponsor, the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change (TMA) was created in the 1990s as a New Visions Public School headed by a charismatic and dynamic Principal, Dr. Sandye Johnson.  Named in honor of the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, TMA originally shared space in an existing public school building, limiting its ability to offer a full-range of academic, recreational, and cultural options to its students.  ADC asked  ddm to assist in financing a new home for the school and to become project manager/developer.

 The process traveled along a five-year obstacle course through political, environmental, and developmental barriers, resulting in a fully financed Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change. Built around the restored exterior of the famous Small’s Paradise Nightclub, the $40 million, seven story middle and high school has state-of-the-art science and language labs, a full-sized gym, and other specialized classrooms and meeting spaces for 720 students.
The school occupies a corner site at a main Harlem commercial strip 135th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Sr. Blvd.  In keeping with the urban planning goals to spark an active street life and ADC’s job creation goals, a family restaurant opened in the first floor retail space of the school building.  The first IHOP in NYC, owned by local franchisees, provides needed income to the non-profit owner, ADC, and a welcoming dining and meeting spot in the neighborhood.


Categories: All Projects, Schools

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