NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center
Auburn, NY

nARCHITECTS was commissioned by the City of Auburn, NY and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to design the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center and public outdoor space in historic Auburn, NY. The new 7,500sf building houses a permanent exhibition celebrating Auburn’s and New York State’s progressive history of promoting social and equal rights. Exhibition content focuses on abolition, the Underground Railroad, women’s suffrage and LGBTQ rights, with a goal of acquainting visitors with the many attractions connected to equal rights throughout the State.
“The Equal Rights Heritage Center is another example of the importance that New York State places on educating and recognizing its history and honoring those who served as pioneers before us so that we can become trailblazers for future generations,” said New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner, Rose Harvey.

The design of the new building, set within Auburn’s historic South Street district, introduces visitors to their immediate surroundings through large glazed openings as if the context were part of the exhibition content. Four one-storey volumes of varying heights and alternating roof pitches, recalling the scale of nearby houses, intersect in such a way as to bring the landscape into the building’s interior.
Interior exhibition spaces are organized to allow visitors to flow along the building’s perimeter, offering views of the Seward House Museum, Memorial City Hall, the historic YMCA and Westminster Church, and a new public plaza and landscape. The exhibition design includes custom elements that will engage visitors through various media. These include furniture modeled after the region’s Finger Lakes, images printed on fabric, and interactive sound booths.

New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center
Location: Auburn, NY
Program: Cultural heritage center with Equal Rights exhibition + Cayuga County and local tourism exhibition, Taste NY market, and offices.
Completion: Fall 2018

Design Team: Credits: Eric Bunge, Mimi Hoang (Principals); Amanda Morgan (Project Manager), Thomas Heltzel, Wei Wen, David Mora, Kaia Chiu.

Collaborators: Exhibition Design: MTWTF + nARCHITECTS; Landscape/Civil Engineer: Environmental Design & Research; Structural Engineer: Silman; MEP Engineer: OLA Consulting Engineers; Lighting Designer: Lumen Architecture, PLLC; Graphic Design: MTWTF; Traffic Consultant: GTS Consulting; Cost Estimator: Ellana Inc.

Photographs by ©James Ewing/OTTO