If You Build It

155th Street & St. Nicholas Avenue, New York 10032


On No Longer Empty's 5-year anniversary of presenting site-specific art, the exhibition “If You Build It” takes root in Sugar Hill—the legendary epicenter of the Harlem Renaissance. The project is inspired and presented in partnership with Broadway Housing Communities at their newest site, designed by architect David Adjaye. Reflecting an integrated approach to housing and architecture, the project forges connections between art, architecture, community, and activism. 

“If You Build It” will feature installations, photography, and performances by more than twenty local, national, and international artists. The works in the exhibition will address cycles of urban decay and regeneration; building community through shared heritage; immigration and displacement; the longing for home in all its senses; and the vast economic disparities that plague our cities. 

The multi-floor exhibition leads visitors from the ground floor to the ninth and back finally to the third floors where additional works, installations, and apartments are curated by invited neighborhood organizations. 

The project will incorporate multi-disciplinary cultural events and the next editions of No Longer Empty’s signature education programs—the Y.Dot Youth Docent Program, Teens Curate Teens in partnership with ArtsConnection, and No Longer Bored Family Days. Stay tuned for the full calendar of events.

“If You Build It” previews the building and shows Broadway Housing Communities commitment to the arts. The site’s future as the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling will be a cultural anchor of the community. Setting forth a radical example of what can be achieved when art and architecture are united with goals for spatial and social justice, this project signifies the desire not only to house, but to house with dignity and sustain community.  

To view the press release, click here or visit our press cornerPress highlights from If You Build It available for download via ISSUU.

If You Build It Catalog available for purchase here.


Art in FLUXArtsConnection / The Classical Theatre of Harlem / Dominican York Proyecto GRAFICA / Harlem Arts AllianceInstitute for Public Architecture / LeRoy Neiman Art CenterNorthern Manhattan Arts Alliance / Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture / Sugar Hill Culture Club / Taste of Harlem / The New School Collaboratory 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: #buildit  #sugarhill  #sweetlife

VIEW PHOTOS: Installation shots and event photos on Facebook

SURVEY: For all of you that visited the exhibition, please take our If You Build It survey to share your experience. 

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 with generous support from National Endowment for the Arts, Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Laurie M Tisch Illumination Fund, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, The Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Foundation, Northern Ireland Bureau, The Double R Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and The Tony Bennett Foundation/Exploring the Arts. 

Image: Sketch of Sugar Hill Development, courtesy of David Adjaye Associates.

Related events and programs


If You Build It