Harold and Judith Edelman teamed with Stanley Salzman in 1960 to create Edelman and Salzman Architects. One of their first projects together was the innovative Sinai Reform Temple located in Bayshore, New York. The Star of David plan not only brought a symbolic statement to the work but allowed for a second level of seating directly above the sanctuary. The structural panels of laminated lumber surfaced with cedar shakes were constructed on site. The building resolves the issues of structural economy, symbolic significance, and community need.
Many of Edelman and Salzman’s early projects were in the Upper West Side Urban Renewal Area, where they worked to renovate brownstones as multifamily housing. The 9G Co-Operative used an inventive combination of nine contiguous brownstones to create new housing. This project is indicative of the early stages of the preservation movement, when concerned designers began to eschew demolition and embrace neighborhood character by restoring exterior facades and adapting building interiors.
Edelman and Salzman also contributed significantly to the preservation and design of Washington Square Park. As community members, the firm opposed the Robert Moses plan to extend 5th Avenue and supported the grassroots movement that freed the park of traffic. Harold Edelman advised on design as a member of the local community board, and the firm was part of the team that planned the park as an informal gathering space—the form in which it existed until a 2009 renovation.
Housing has been the cornerstone of the practice, and the fostering of long-term relationships has been a common thread through our history. We began our long and fruitful relationship with the Settlement Housing Fund and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council in the early 1970s, when we first came together to build the Two Bridges Hester Allen Houses, a 14-story New York City Housing Authority apartment building. This was the first of seven large-scale housing projects that the team completed together between the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, culminating with the Two Bridges Tower in 1998. ESKW/Architects continues to work with Settlement Housing Fund, most recently on 1561 Walton Avenue and the New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx.
Throughout the seventies, Edelman and Salzman also worked on public buildings, such as community centers and health clinics. One of the most significant health clinics was the North East Neighborhood Associate Clinic on East 3rd Street. Designed to provide both medical and social care facilities to the low-income residents of the neighborhood, the clinic was conceived to be more accessible than existing health care facilities. Edelman and Salzman also made a significant contribution to the restoration and development of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory campus in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The firm provided a master plan and the design for several new buildings, including a conference center, new laboratory and research facilities, and a dormitory.
Another milestone project during this period was Claremont Gardens in Ossining, New York, developed by the New York State Urban Development Corporation. This innovative housing model exemplified economical design: housing not only efficiently sited, organized, and constructed, but also designed for the comfort of the residents. Modular wood framed units manufactured by the Starrett Modular Company were assembled into low-rise clusters of duplex and simplex apartments, responding to the site and providing optimal views and accessibility. This project has been widely exhibited, studied, and used as a prototype for affordable multifamily housing. We have continued our work with modular housing models in the more recent award-winning Prospect Plaza homes.
The firm name changed to the Edelman Partnership/Architects in 1979. In the 1980s, funding by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 stimulated housing for seniors across the country. The Edelman Partnership/Architects helped shape how this funding was employed in New York City and surrounding areas, where they built more than eight large-scale senior housing projects. In Manhattan, they continued to work in two urban renewal districts, building Phelps House in the Upper West Side and Helen Harris Senior Housing on the Lower East Side. In the early 2000s, we had the opportunity to provide additions and renovations to both buildings, underscoring the continued relationships and commitment to clients that the firm has enjoyed.
A result of a relationship that has spanned decades, our work for St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery has persevered since 1969. Harold Edelman designed the inventive reconstruction of the graveyard, incorporating the original vaults into a new sculptural topography. The firm designed a renovation of the sanctuary which was almost complete when it was partially destroyed by fire 1978. Through the initiative of the Preservation Youth Project, a community work training program, the restoration was completed in 1986. The stained-glass windows of the balcony were replaced with new windows based on paintings by Harold Edelman. In the nineties, The Edelman Partnership/Architects restored the original Rectory, which houses several neighborhood preservation groups. Partner Randy Wood now serves on the board of the St. Mark’s Historic Building Council, continuing the firm’s guidance and support of the campus.
Over the course of the 1990s, the Edelman Partnership/Architects designed a wide range of projects for the NYC Department of Design and Construction. A former women’s prison in Orange County, New York, was converted into Camp LaGuardia for homeless housing, a project administered by New York City. The design added a dining hall and a new covered circulation complex to unify a series of existing buildings. Another renovation project transformed a former Yiddish theater on the Lower East Side into a code-compliant, modern venue for LaMama Theater. The New Child Care Center in Far Rockaway, Queens, was the first of many community center projects for the firm. Andrew Knox and Randy Wood were named Partners of the firm in 1998, and founding partner Harold Edelman passed away the same year.
When the Edelman Partnership/Architects merged with Sultan Architecture + Design in 2002, Joseph Sultan brought twenty years of experience in supportive and subsidized housing. The two firms shared a common commitment to supporting non-profit clients, and the latest incarnation of the practice, ESKW/Architects, continues to serve many long-standing clients and their evolving needs in the community. Founding partner Judith Edelman passed away in 2014, but the firm and its work has sustained her legacy in community-oriented architecture.
Kimberly Murphy was named Partner in 2017, and Kerry Zucker and Fialka Semenuik were named Associates in 2018. The firm’s combined leadership has furthered the firm’s commitment to community on several large-scale, award-winning projects in housing, education, healthcare, and cultural and community centers.