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Tree of Life Tree of Life


89-48 164th Street
Downtown Jamaica, Queens NY

Project Scope

Mixed Use, Multi Family, Community Facility


David E. Gross AIA

Photo Credits

Albert Vercerka/Esto



Envisioned as an Engine for Social Welfare

The TOLC is the community outreach arm of the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica. Organized in 1662, it is the oldest continuously serving Presbyteian church in the United States. The original and still functioning church building is from 1813. The church collaborated with the Bluestone Group to create a mixed-use mixed-income project that provides 174 supportive housing units, medical facility offices, increased program area for the church, upgraded and handicap accessible access entry to the church and a parking garage. The First Jamaica Community and Urban Development Corporation (FJCUDC) manages the 25,000+ SF of community facilities which provides a food pantry, weekly community dinners, a clothing closet, and basic literacy / financial wellness programs that support local residents.

Tree of Life Using architecture to orchestrate positive transformation for the local community, the design for the TOLC achieves the church’s holistic vision within a modest budget. As part of the concept for the project, the 12-story building itself is a high performing certified Passive House construction thereby being a gentle neighbor to the environment. The construction phase was energy efficient, and the project has reduced energy consumption now that it is open. The TOLC has received the NYSERDA Buildings of Excellence Award.

The building’s design provides a clear delineation of the new building on a typical NYC street. The ground floor contains commercial space while the second floor houses the community facility spaces. The upper floors contain the residential units. The building wraps around a two-story commercial bank building and connects to the church on the west and a residential building on the east. The varied materials of brick, EIFS, stone and metal and the dynamic massing reflect the urban milieu of the site.

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