Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center today cut the ribbon on a new playground at its headquarters at 3415 Olinville Avenue in the Bronx, funded by New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and former New York Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson. The opening follows two City capital projects that ended in 2013 and 2022 which renovated the interior and exterior of the building. The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) managed the two earlier projects and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) provided funding for them.
“DDC builds cultural centers, theaters and museums in every borough which stimulate young minds and encourage participation in the arts,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley. “It is very gratifying to see Mind-Builders develop their Center around two prior DDC projects that upgraded both the interior and exterior of the building.”
“Mind-Builders is an incredible hub of community and creativity, and we’re proud of the City’s investment in their revitalized Bronx home,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “We thank everyone who joined us in supporting these critical improvements, and our partners at DDC for getting these project done.”
“This is the culmination of a dream that so many have joined together to make a reality. We are thrilled to finally be able to use one of the building’s major assets for all ages to use for play, respite and performances to demonstrate student talents!” said Mind-Builders Founder Madaha Kinsey-Lamb.
“Mind-Builders is a warm, inviting and energizing environment designed to stimulate creativity in all who of all enter. That energy is now extended to our new outdoor playground and performance area,” said Mind-Builders Executive Director Shirley C. Taylor.
With initial funding of $125,000 from then Senator Ruth Hasell-Thompson and completion funding from Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie of $965,000, the new playground, designed by KaN Architects, just outside Mind-Builders’ café, features musical play elements, a slide and low climbing wall for younger students as well as a platform stage for performances and drought resistant native pollinator garden with seated areas for relaxation and reflection.
In November 2013, DDC completed a $6.77 million interior renovation of the building including the basement. A new elevator and bathrooms were added for ADA accessibility. Dance studios, educational classrooms, dressing rooms, administration space, a café and other public spaces were installed. The building’s mechanical systems including the fire alarm were upgraded and a new security system was installed. Following the project, the building met standards for LEED Silver certification for environmental sustainability.
In July 2022, DDC completed a second $1.83 million capital project at the site to renovate the building’s exterior. New windows were installed, the façade was repointed, and the front and rear concrete stairs were rebuilt. An additional retaining wall on the south side of the site was repaired and new security lighting was added on the south side of the building.
Established in 1978, Mind-Builders is a pioneering nonprofit founded by educator and scholar Madaha Kinsey-Lamb to bring arts instruction and education to the Northeast Bronx, inspiring the growth of generations of local youth and families through high-quality arts programming. Mind-Builders brings together best practices in arts education, youth development, and community engagement in the belief that a healthy community is a vital ingredient toward healthy development. Program alumni include Alimi Ballard, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Ayodele Casel, Charles Malik Whitfield, and Victoria Gabrielle Platt, among others.
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $24 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.
About the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit nyc.gov/culture.