Interiors: Affordable and Attractive

Welcome to installment #2 of Brownstoner Interiors (okay, in this case, a bit of exterior, too). We're publishing interiors from Brooklyn architects, designers, renovation buffs and handy/artsy types. If you have a project you'd be interested in publishing, please send us a note.

Harden + Van Arnam is a Brooklyn Heights-based firm specializing in affordable projects...not that you'd know it from the look of them. "We use affordable materials detailed in a way that makes our buildings look like anything but 'low-income housing,'" says Cindy Harden. "We also provide fixtures and finishes that one would expect in market rate projects."

HVA has been in business since 1989. Harden is the former architectural director of the Pratt Architectural Collaborative and Van Arnam, a Pratt graduate, has been a general contractor; both have been long interested in housing issues, and the great majority of their work is for non-profits.

One trade secret for making affordable housing attractive includes large windows and higher floor-to-floor heights than often used. "They give our buildings a great sense of scale," says Harden. "We believe that if you treat people with dignity and respect they will respond likewise and they do. We also believe that everyone has the right to a safe, dignified and beautiful home." Below, she speaks on designing for specific populations, community opposition to affordable housing, dealing with the DOB and green design, and you'll see photos of two of their projects: Morris Manor, on Newkirk and Flatbush Avenues, and Red Hook Homes, on Wolcott and Coffey Streets.

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