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The Kira Tree of Life


153-24 90th Road
Queens, NY

Project Scope



David E. Gross AIA



Photo Credits

Albert Vercerka/Esto

Modern and Sustainable Design with Social Impact

Kira is a mixed-use, multifamily residential building located in Jamaica, Queens. Built as part of the Downtown Jamaica Revitalization Initiative of the NYC Department of City Planning and to the specifications of the Enterprise Green Building Standards, the 21-story building contains 139 supportive housing units of which 69 are dedicated to survivors of domestic abuse. New Destiny Housing provides comprehensive on-site support services such as residential counseling, group meetings, program events, and workshops.

The Kira’s design is meant to be forward looking, fresh, and upbeat to reflect the optimism of the building’s mission in creating new opportunities for its residents. The building compliments the neighborhood and yet is easily identifiable in the visually busy urban setting. Rising up above its neighbors, the 21-story brick building is composed of a three-story base with an 18-story tower. Visually, the building operates on two scales: urban and pedestrian. The building has an urban scale that can be seen from a distance with its clear graphic window pattern. Inspired by musical composition, a syncopated rhythm of fenestration is created by its buff texture grey brick on the tower. The base which establishes the pedestrian scale, is made of a dark Ironspot reflective brick that forms an intricate pattern, offset by smooth metal panels. The base is aligned in scale with the adjacent two and three-story commercial buildings of Jamaica Avenue.

The design of the building also distinguishes between the front and the rear facades ergo between the commercial and the residential. The Kira’s design embraces both the vibrant urban energy of the avenue and the quieter neighborhood context behind the building. Along Jamaica Avenue, the Kira provides a dynamic streetscape with a retail area of 5,000 SF. The residential entry is in the rear through Grace Court, a quiet residential street. The charcoal-colored brick on the lower rear facade creates a lower scale backdrop to the private entry and its courtyard. The Kira is connected to the smaller-scale residential houses through this open courtyard that is a transition to the taller tower.

The Kira’s modern design is juxtaposed with nearby traditional buildings and provides a refreshing visual contrast. It symbolizes both a new aesthetic direction for downtown Jamaica Queens and a fresh outlook for the inhabitants of the building.

Tree of Life The Kira is Enterprise Green Communities certified and featured in New York State’s Homes and Community Renewal Program.

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