Drumming Up Office Space
Back in 2006, Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP) contacted architect Nicole Hollant-Denis to help the organization tackle some serious building violations. “The two storefronts that house the organization’s headquarters were becoming dilapidated,” Hollant-Denis vividly recalls. “The boiler was failing, the roof was leaking, they had a rat infestation problem, and the property was very hard to maintain.”
It’s no wonder the group – cofounded in 1975 by Hollant-Denis’ father, Gilbert Hollant – turned to Hollant-Denis as a resource. Cited as a Top 20th Century Female Architect, Hollant-Denis is founder and principal of AARRIS Architects. The 10-year-old, New York-based architectural firm is most known for its efforts in the redesign of the African Burial Ground Memorial.
Headquartered in Cambria Heights, N.Y., HAUP (pronounced “hope”) was developed to help Haitians in political exile get acclimated to life in the Big Apple. At its start, the organization primarily showed Haitian emigrants how to file for citizenship or obtain their immigration visas. In recent years, however, the group’s efforts have involved education, job training, networking, dissemination of cultural information and other key services. Although the organization continued to retrofit the two side-by-side storefronts to accommodate its current activities, the commercial spaces they’d purchased many years ago no longer suited them, and their offices needed a major overhaul.