Aleia, a new pavilion by Jerome Haferd Studio, opens in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park

An immersive public pavilion by Jerome Haferd Studio is now open at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. The structure, titled Aleia, sits atop Mount Morris Acropolis. It marks the second phase of interactive public artworks for Harlem Grow’s Culture, Creativity, and Care Initiative—a program funded by the Mellon Foundation.

The first phase was Sankofa, another pavilion by Haferd which opened last year at the base of Marcus Garvey Park. Sankofa was completed in 2023, but more recently it’s original canopy was swapped out with a new version titled An Ode to Drexciya, a collaboration between Haferd, Gabriel Moyer Perez, Élan Cadiz, Laura Gadson, nia Love, and Michelle Bishop of Harlem Needle Arts.

Now, Sankofa is connected to Aleia by what the design team calls The Storywalk, a serpentine path that leads park goers upwards to Mount Morris’s apex. This portion contains historic and contemporary compositions of Garvey Park, Harlem, and Marcus Garvey himself.

“This project was conceived with many community members and incorporates many people’s voices,” Jerome Haferd told AN. “Aleia is this kind of loom like structure. It continues themes I work on in my practice related to woven architecture, local histories, permanence, and temporality.”

artist Jerome Haferd
Haferd (center) traversing The Storywalk (Courtesy Jerome Haferd Studio)

Aleia translates to ascendant, or exulted. It consists of a 32-foot semicircular stage oriented in a manner that embraces the existing proscenium. The public space can be used for concerts, performances, readings, or idol meditation.

Above the stage is a spectacular, woven mesh canopy supported by metal pillars that displays paintings by local New York schoolchildren from the Harlem Grown afterschool program and Thomas Heath, a Harlem-based artist.

Among Heath’s paintings on view at Aleia are four pieces from his UB Rolling Series and another work titled Pandemic. “Thomas Heath, who lives right adjacent to the park, is someone I’ve collaborated with before,” Haferd shared. “His artwork has this wonderful, playful quality.”

new canopy at Sankofa
The new canopy at Sankofa (Courtesy Jerome Haferd Studio)

Today, Jerome Haferd runs his eponymous Black led, Harlem-based studio and is an assistant professor of architecture at CUNY. For Aleia, former and current CUNY students Violet Greenberg, Gabriel Moyer-Perez, Tiffany Gonzalez, and Pedro Cruz Cruz each worked on the design team with Haferd. Greenberg co-authored Aleia’s canopy composition, and Gabriel Moyer-Perez played an important role on Sankofa.

Haferd also recently cofounded the new Place, Memory and Culture Incubator at CUNY Spitzer School of Architecture with support from the Mellon Foundation. The incubator does projects in Harlem at the intersection of design, the humanities, and social justice with local community groups.

Moving forward, Jerome Haferd Studio and the Incubator will work with Harlem community groups on projects at the Harlem African Burial Ground, the 125th Street corridor, and other historic places.

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