Posts tagged with "NYC Parks and Recreation":

Archtober Building of the Day #21: Bronx River House

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today, Archtober went on a hard hat tour of Bronx River House designed by Kiss + Cathcart with landscape design by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners. Situated on the Bronx River, access to the site is currently from a service road; when the project is completed, it will open into Starlight Park on the Bronx River Greenway. Though the project has been in the works for over ten years, it is expected to officially open in January 2018, with a full program activating the site sometime after that. The Bronx River House is the result of a public-private partnership between the Bronx River Alliance and numerous government agencies, primarily the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Since 2001, the Bronx River Alliance has been bringing attention to the recreational possibilities of the Bronx River and working to make the Bronx River Greenway a reality through educational and recreational programs. When Bronx River House opens, it will serve as the headquarters for the offices of the Bronx River Alliance, as well as a community space for locals and park visitors. The Bronx River House is a single-story structure, approximately 7,000 square feet in area, that will contain multiple programs. Surrounding the main structure, a metal mesh screen wall will serve as a security measure and support greenery. Within the building, the Alliance will have space for around 25 desks in addition to a boathouse, which has room for 20 or more canoes. These are used for river restoration, clean-up, and recreational tours. Public spaces will include a multipurpose room and a classroom that will face onto a public plaza that directly connects to Starlight Park. Our tour was led by Gregory Kiss of Kiss + Cathcart, who highlighted the design decisions they made to integrate the building into its setting. Less visible decisions include rainwater collection through the structure’s roof and plazas, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and solar energy panels that will allow the building to run on nearly 100% solar energy on a net basis. Perhaps most exciting are the plans to integrate plants and other greenery into the design of the building. The metal screen surrounding the building will be planted with an array of vines that will provide shade in the summer and allow light through in the winter. Kiss explained that the hope is that the main building will eventually be covered in moss. Because the cultivation of moss on vertical surfaces is still experimental, they will start with a 300-square-foot area. A drip irrigation system using collected rainwater will be added to the shingles on the façade to support the moss. Kiss stated that his intention with the vines and moss is to create a forest-like micro-climate that further integrates the building into the surrounding park. We definitely look forward to visiting again when the building opens to the public. Claudia Ibaven of the Bronx River Alliance, who joined us on our tour, reminded us to keep an eye on the Alliance’s website for announcements on when that will be. Join us tomorrow at ISSUE Project Room. By Berit Hoff

Archtober Building of the Day: Freshkills Park

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Sunday, Archtober toured Freshkills Park, a former New York City landfill on Staten Island redeveloped into a 2,200-acre green space. Our tour guide was Mariel Villeré, the Manager for Programs, Arts and Grants at Freshkills Park. She gave us insights into the park’s history, design, and construction. An NYC Parks minibus picked us up from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal for the 30-minute ride to the site. After signing our waivers and traveling some distance over sanitation department roads, we arrived at the Visitor Center. Here, Villeré delved into the history of the site and the project. Until the mid-20th century, Freshkills Park was a wetland. In 1948, Robert Moses chose this supposedly “useless” site to create a landfill, which by 1955 was the largest in the world. The waste was dumped into four huge mounds, North, South, East and West, which today form the basis of the park’s landscape. The waste dump, which all five boroughs used, was officially ordered to close in 1996, and the last barge of refuse was sent to Freshkills after the World Trade Center attack in 2001. (The boroughs now have separate contracts with outside landfills; Staten Island’s garbage, for example, is shipped to South Carolina). In 2001, the Freshkills Park Alliance and NYC Parks launched a competition for a site masterplan, which James Corner Field Operations won. Their plan proposed the four distinct areas of the park based on the garbage mounds, along with a central area, known as the Confluence. Our tour focused on North Park, which recreates and strengthens the site’s wetlands and creeks. The entire site is two-and-a-half times the size of Central Park. In North Park, we took in the stunning views over Staten Island to Manhattan on the north and the rest of Freshkills Park to the south. Villeré discussed the vision behind the park’s design, noting how they needed to balance the recreation of the former habitat with the understanding that the site’s ecology and meaning have been irrevocably changed by 50 years of trash. While the garbage is under several layers of topsoil, no attempt is made to downplay the typical mound shape of the landfill. This creates an ecological opportunity in the northeast, where the drive for reforestation sometimes sidelines open spaces and wetlands. The diversity of the park has increased dramatically over the last few years, with over 100 species of birds now counted at the site. Villeré outlined the manifold challenges of creating a park on top of a landfill. Landfills generate two byproducts: landfill gas and leachate. At Freshkills, landfill gas is funneled into treatment facilities where its components, methane and CO2, are separated. The methane is piped into the New York City gas grid. The other product, leachate, is the liquid that forms, on a small scale, at the bottom of a trash bag. At Freshkills, permeable pipes laid in concrete ditches at the bottom of each mound collect the leachate. It is then treated and separated into leachate cakes, a highly concentrated substance, and clean water. We also drove by a flare station, which is a backup in case there is an issue with the system piping methane into the grid. Since the site is so huge, the project is necessarily phased. These phases are arranged from the outside in order to give back to the surrounding community, which was negatively impacted by the dump. The timeline has therefore prioritized small, demonstrable projects along the park’s edges. So far, some wetland restoration, Owl Hollow soccer fields, the New Springville Greenway, and the renovation of Schmul Park have been completed. We got a view of Schmul Park in the Travis neighborhood just to the west of the park. The redesign of a Moses-era blacktop playground–also by James Corner Field Operations–is now vibrantly colorful, packed with children and families on the warm October day. It is a blueprint for the success of an extraordinary project that will transform not only an extraordinary site, but how we think about the relationship between waste and nature in New York and beyond.

Archtober Building of the Day #7: Cary Leeds Center for Tennis and Learning

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today, Archtober got a tour of the Cary Leeds Tennis Center in the Bronx led by GLUCK+ principal Marc Gee. Gee elaborated the complex process of getting such a major public project built, and explained how the design/build capabilities of GLUCK+ allowed the project to be completed on time and under budget. The Tennis Center is a joint venture between New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. NYJTL, which runs tennis clinics and tutoring and academic programs, approached GLUCK+ with the idea for the Center, which would serve as a home base for all of NYJTL’s programs. The Center was to be named after Cary Leeds, a professional tennis player who tragically passed away, and whose parents wanted to commemorate him in a way that would help bring the sport he loved to more people. Over a number of years, GLUCK+ worked on five schemes for five different parks in three boroughs before finally being able to realize the design in Crotona Park. There are 12 new hard courts at the Center, ten of them bubbled for winter play. This number adds to the ten public courts that the Department of Parks and Recreation renovated. NYJTL uses revenue from renting court time during the winter to pay for its on- and off-court programming. In addition to the courts, GLUCK+ was responsible for the design of the airy clubhouse. The clubhouse had two design objectives: minimizing sightlines from the park and opening the interior space to the courts as much as possible. When the original design was rejected because at two stories it would have been visible from multiple points in the park, GLUCK+ decided to sink the lower floor below grade. From the park side of the tennis courts, all one sees is the fence of the tennis court – the Center itself is invisible. But once you enter the space from the front door on Crotona Avenue, it is clear that GLUCK+ have designed an extraordinary space. The top entrance-level floor houses a check-in desk, offices for NYJTL and, to the right, a restrained, adult-focused lounge. Locker rooms and a pro shop are located against the entrance wall, away from the courts. The far wall is all glass, opening to a terrace and giving a picture-perfect view of the two stadium courts below. In the middle of the room is the precast-concrete staircase, which, due to a manufacturing error, had to be recast and then moved in after windows had already been fitted, creating a logistical nightmare. At the bottom of the stairs is the kids’ lounge, accented by multicolored chairs and a tennis ball pit. Further on are a classroom and a broadcasting room – the Tennis Channel donated equipment so that children can interview the major players who stop by the Center. Other back-of-house functions like the kitchen are also downstairs. Glass doors lead outside, where a patio separates the building from the courts, providing, on the day we toured, space for a barbeque and other festivities. GLUCK+’s dual role as architect and contractor made the project possible, allowing decisions that would usually have taken weeks going back and forth from construction site to office to be answered immediately. When a construction issue forced the design to be adjusted, it could be done almost immediately. The project came in $1800 under the $26 million budget and exactly on time. And since, as Gee pointed out, “the only person with a deep stake in the design is the architect,” supervising construction allowed GLUCK+ to make sure that the design was executed just as they wanted.

Nine more NYC parks slated to be fully rebuilt

It's not just New York City's Anchor Parks that are receiving renewed attention: Earlier this week, the city announced that nine additional parks would be fully renovated as part of the ongoing Community Parks Initiative (CPI). The CPI is $285 million project that was launched in 2014 and aims to improve "historically under-funded parks in densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty," according to a press release. 60 parks will be rebuilt and 100 more sites will receive "targeted improvements and enhanced programming," such as "new pavements for basketball courts, new plantings, and aesthetic improvements." The CPI—which also features an annual $2.5 million budget for ongoing park maintenance—is also part of the Mayor de Blasio's oneNYC plan, which broadly aims to encourage economic growth, ecological sustainability, and resiliency, all while reducing inequality. “For health, for relaxation, and for happiness, great neighborhoods need the great neighborhood spaces the Community Parks Initiative creates,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, in a press release. “This is why CPI is not only an investment in parks—it’s an investment in the well-being of millions of New Yorkers for generations to come.” The nine parks to be renovated are: Bronx · Garrison Playground · Playground 174 · Playground 134 · Plimpton Playground Brooklyn · La Guardia Playground · Weeksville Playground Manhattan · Abraham Lincoln Playground · Audubon Playground Queens · Almeda Playground According to the press release, 35 of the inaugural CPI parks have already broken ground on construction. 12 other parks are in the design phase and more sites will be added to the initiative next year.

Staten Island’s eerie, abandoned Farm Colony to be transformed into senior housing

Staten Island's abandoned New York City Farm Colony is being redeveloped into Landmark Colony, a $91 million residential community for seniors 55 and older. The architect is Staten Island–based Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture/Urban Planning. The Farm Colony was founded in 1829 as a government-run poorhouse for indigent New Yorkers. Enrollment declined with the introduction of government-run antipoverty programs like Social Security in the 1930s and the Great Society programs of the 1960s. The colony closed for good in 1975. Vacant since then, the Dutch revival–style buildings have decayed and now provide canvases for graffiti artists. In 1982, some of the land was annexed to the NYC Parks Department and added to the Staten Island Greenbelt, which runs adjacent to the property. The site, along with neighboring Seaview Hospital, was designated a New York City historic district in 1985.
With last week's City Council approval, Landmark Colony's opening is set for 2018. Plans call for constructing 344 units, a mix of medium-rise condos and low-rise townhouses, on the 43-acre site, the Staten Island Advance reported.
The complex will include 18,500 square feet of retail, a community center with an outdoor swimming pool, and 17.6 acres of green space. The colony's pond will be refurbished, and a hill with seating will surround a stage for concerts and events. 90 percent of the existing roads will be converted into bike and pedestrian trails.
Some of the ruins will be left standing, and, per the Landmark Preservation Commission approval process, new buildings must be compatible with the architectural heritage of the Farm Colony. Former dormitories will be converted into loft-style condos, while the design of the townhouses will reference the shop building on-site.
With construction expected to take less than two years, urban explorers have a only a few months left to explore the Farm Colony's ghostly ruins.

New York City Asks For Help Redesigning the Hurricane-Ravaged Boardwalk in the Rockaways

Even as New Yorkers throng to the beaches in the Rockaways, the remnants from Hurricane Sandy still linger. One such vestige is the damaged boardwalk that once stretched from Far Rockaway to Rockaway Park in Queens. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation with the help of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in July seeking designs for the 4.7-mile boardwalk, and now the August 14th deadline is nearing. The RFP calls for a multifaceted approach that incorporates a range of flood protection measures such as seawalls and dunes: "The design shall provide for protective structures that are more resilient and able to withstand storm and tidal forces that may impact the coastline in future years." The proposals will focus on the coastal area from roughly Beach 20th to Beach 126th. The Parks Department anticipates that they will select a group of finalists within the next several weeks, and present the designs to the public and Community Board 14 sometime in September.

School + Pool: Parsons Makes Waves with Splash House

Practice makes perfect, and for some Parsons students, the Splash House at Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is a jumping off point for becoming better architects. Parsons’ Design Workshop, a design-build studio set up 15 years ago to offer practical training to students, has partnered with New York Parks and Recreation Department to instigate a five-year initiative to identify and implement improvements in public spaces across the city. “The architecture students get a more holistic understanding of process,” said Kate McCormick, Press Officer at Parsons. “They actually learn how to make and engage the community, by finding out what it needs.” Although it usually collaborates with public organizations both inside and outside Manhattan, this is the Workshop’s first long-term municipal partnership within New York City. The first assignment: Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center in Upper Manhattan. The Splash House outdoor pool pavilion includes new lockers, changing rooms and brings the circulation right up to the poolside. This design means that the recreation center can stay open year-round and allows for the center to fulfill its dual functions simultaneously. “This is a community that needs recreation space for the 100,000 to 150,000 community members that use the center,” said Alfred Zollinger, director of Parsons Design Works in a recent interview. The extension, whose wooden ribs rise and fall to form a wrap of segmented spaces around the pool, has been designed to be flexible and deal with the increased number of pool-goers over the summer with sliding doors fitted in the locker areas to help facilitate more changing rooms. A translucent polycarbonate corrugate rooftop will allow natural light to shine through while providing a sheltered area and, at one end, a water curtain eschews the design as purely functional. Indeed, the design’s playful and porous nature is also a response to the pool’s historical context. As one of 11 city pools built in 1936—a project commissioned by Robert Moses as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administrationthe center represents a wider effort to stimulate and improve the quality of life for local communities. The Design Workshop’s 10 graduate students will be working to complete the pool-side pavilions this summer, which means Splash House will remain a dry house until summer 2012.

Quick Clicks> Lifted Forts, A New Leaf, Walking the Line, and LA Light Rail

Guy Maunsell's Sea Forts. Standing above the sea, these Maunsell fortifications were originally built as British defenses during World War II. They remain lifted as a symbol of protection. As industrial creatures, the towers take expressive portraits. Oh, Pentagram. New York City paired with Paula Scher of Pentagram to create a new symbol for the iconic NYC Parks Department leaf. Although excellent in traditional green, the paired down logo can also be used as an elegant silhouette for programming and public events. Or perhaps wrapping paper. Parasol Unit in red, in public. New York-based performance artist Kate Gilmore and the Parasol unit foundation collaborated to start a new program entitled parasol public. Gilmore's red structure is the centerpiece of  Walk the Line, a small two story space designed upstairs for pacing and downstairs as a passageway within Exchange Square, London. Downtown to Santa Monica. The new Los Angeles county Expo Line light rail system expects to bring a bit of green speed to transportation across the city. With a plan to partially open in the fall and to unveil completely in 2015, the rail line is already underway. Just about everybody is looking forward to the new light rail, especially those who will benefit directly as part of their commute to work.

Gimme Shelter: Bike Stations for Fresh Kills

Despite all the controversy surrounding bike lanes and cyclists elsewhere in the city, Fresh Kills South has adopted a rather pro bike stance (though who'd expect there to be much disagreement when the only other traffic to contend with is that of joggers, pedestrians, and bird watchers). New bike maintenance stations designed by James Corner Field Operations will eventually dot the landscape of the of the entire park, and their design nods equally to both the biker and the walker. The stations include vending machines selling bike repair products, like Allen wrenches and spare parts, on one side, and benches for weary bikers or pedestrians on the other. The benches made of torrefied (baked) wood are attached to a dividing wall made of galvanized steel two by fours spaced about six inches apart. These bike stations, along with new "comfort stations" (a.k.a. restrooms), will be off the grid, so solar panels atop the structures will provide the energy needed to power lights and equipment. Both structures feature lively lime green accents making them hard to miss in the landscape. The comfort stations sit on top of a concrete box that holds equipment for sorting sewage materials destined for composting. The structure also contains closets for maintenance equipment. The bathrooms themselves are simply prefab structures dropped into the envelope. While the new structures were designed with the new southern end of the park in mind, soon they will become the park standard.