Current Work: Betances Residence Project Study

The architect, non-profit developer, and community services provider discuss the process of building this supportive housing project.

April 2, 2024
7:00 p.m.

COOKFOX Architects | Betances Residence, Bronx, NY, 2022. Image credit: Frank Oudeman

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

This spring, the League is focusing on the imperative for more accessible spaces, from different perspectives and through different typologies. Following the lead of disability justice organizers to uplift intersectional approaches over notions of universality, our hope is to reach beyond the often inconsistently executed design ramifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address how the fields that are charged with planning, design, construction, and management can more fully support the creation of an inclusive built environment.

What are some of the ways we interpret accessibility in housing, from the economic to the physical aspects of a project? How can architects effectively partner with non-profit organizations to create mindful, enduring designs that are truly welcoming for residents from vulnerable communities?

Located in the Bronx, Betances Residence is a supportive, multi unit development for low income and formerly unhoused senior citizens. Designed by COOKFOX Architects, the 152-unit building contains on-site medical and community facilities and meets Passive House standards. This program will bring together the architects, client, and community service provider behind Betances Residence to discuss the process of creating accessible supportive housing, with participation from COOKFOX Architects, non-profit developer Breaking Ground, and the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS).

Learn more about the project below:

Caption: COOKFOX Architects | Betances Residence, Bronx, NY, 2022. Video credit: Bilyana Dimitrova

The program will close with a panel discussion and audience Q&A moderated by Quilian Riano, dean of Pratt School of Architecture.

Breaking Ground is New York’s largest developer and operator of permanent supportive housing, and a nationally recognized leader in advancing solutions to homelessness. With 31 transitional and permanent residences under management, Breaking Ground provides “safe, stable, beautiful housing for those who need it most,” in the words of the organization. Its programs include Street to Home, a homeless outreach effort under contract with the New York City Department of Homeless Services, and Connect to Care, a suite of privately funded outreach programs that bring its approach into retail stores, privately owned public spaces, hospital emergency departments, and more. 

Center for Urban Community Services has delivered housing, financial stability, mental health and medical services to vulnerable New Yorkers for over three decades, including the award-winning health care program Janian Medical Care, the largest provider of psychiatric care to homeless and formerly homeless people in New York City. CUCS training teams have provided professional development to a broad spectrum of staff from the human services, behavioral health and judicial sectors across the nation.

COOKFOX Architects is a New York-based architectural and interior design studio founded in 2003. The studio focuses on environmentally responsive design and architecture that promotes social equity. Their diverse portfolio includes residential, workplace, and education projects driven, in the firm’s own words, by “a belief that healthy, nature-connected environments stimulate an innate positive physiological response in occupants.”


Rick Cook is a founding partner of COOKFOX Architects. The studio designs “high-performance buildings that harmonize architecture with ambitious environmental and social sustainability goals,” in the firm’s words. Committed to community and ecology, Cook’s work ranges from commercial towers to supportive housing projects. He earned a BArch from Syracuse University.

Brenda Rosen is the President and CEO of Breaking Ground. She joined the organization in 1999 as director of the Prince George and advanced as director of property management. Previously, Rosen served as assistant general counsel at the New York City Department of Homeless Services. She received her B.A. from Hunter College and holds a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Van Yu is the acting CEO of the Center for Urban Community Services and chief medical officer of the organization’s medical and psychiatric services program, Janian Medical Care. He was formerly the assistant director of the Bellevue Hospital Center Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program. Yu earned his medical degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The event is co-sponsored by Pratt School of Architecture.