Ray Harlem and National Black Theatre

National Black Theatre's new home will ensure that the institution continues to serve as a vital resource for artists and entrepreneurs.

Handel Architects is designing a new mixed-use project for Ray and LMXD, which will serve as a new home for National Black Theatre (NBT), the longest-running Black theater in New York City. The project will include a multi-floor theater for NBT, dynamic retail, as well as 222 units of mixed-income apartments above. The new building will ensure that the institution, a vital community resource, will be able to serve future generations. Founded in 1968 by visionary Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, NBT presented productions by, and about, Black Americans at a time when they were ignored by mainstream institutions. Frida Escobedo Architects is collaborating on the design.

The project integrates West African mythology, ritual, and symbolism into the design. The pink-red brick references the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove in Nigeria, honoring the original artisans behind the NBT space. A "Living Room" at the ground floor corner of 126th and 5th Avenue will be open to the public and serve as a community gathering space.

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