Flushing Meadows Corona Park
City Opens First Indoor Public Pool In Four Decades: Aquatic Center Opens In Largest Recreation Facility Ever Built In A City Park
Friday, February 29, 2008
Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky and Senior Vice President David Kane, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, USA Pools Corporate President Troy Legg, local elected officials and community members gathered today to celebrate the opening of the new Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center, the first indoor public pool to be built in four decades. Competitive high school swimmers, synchronized swimmers, divers, senior citizens and children were on hand to test the water and show the flexibility of the space, which allows competitive and recreational swimming to take place simultaneously.
The Olympic-size swimming pool is housed in the new Flushing Meadows Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink building, which was built in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation. The building, which also houses the NHL-regulation ice rink that will open later this year, is the largest recreation complex ever built in a City park and will serve as a year-round facility for competitive and recreational use. The $66.3 million project was funded and envisioned by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and former Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern.
“One of the hallmarks of our five-borough economic development strategy is to invest in things that make New York City more livable, and this fantastic new aquatic center – the first indoor public pool built in this City in more than 40 years – is a terrific example of that,” said Deputy Mayor Lieber. “The Economic Development Corporation and the Parks Department, together with Borough President Marshall, have created a fantastic addition to Flushing Meadows Corona Park and a place where local and citywide residents can come to learn, play and have fun.”
“From a valley of ashes to World’s Fairs grounds to a stunning contemporary building with soaring masts—the new Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool and Ice Rink marks an important milestone in the history of the park and our city,” said Parks Commissioner Benepe. “Not only have we introduced modern design to public space for the first time in decades, but we have made a world-class swimming facility available to all New Yorkers. We thank our partners, the Economic Development Corporation, for their support in managing this project, as well as Mayor Bloomberg, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, former Mayor Giuliani, former Borough President Claire Shulman and former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern for making it a reality.”
“This new pool and soon-to-open ice skating rink will fill this building with the sound of laughter and squeals of excitement for thousands of youngsters for generations to come,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “I am happy to have provided more than $10 million in funding for this facility. However, we could not have reached today’s opening without the support of Mayor Bloomberg who we hope will swim here one day.”
Inspired by the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair pavilions, a cable-supported canopy roof is suspended over the 110,000 square foot building. Designed as part of the 2012 Olympic bid, the design allows for the walls running the length of the facility to potentially be removed for expansion to a larger venue with a temporary bleacher structure. Like the construction of the Works Progress Administration era, simple materials are used to create stunning architecture. In this case, pre-cast concrete panels are punctuated with color glass tiles to create the exterior and a three-story glass lobby provides a dramatic introduction to the building.
“This building is a feat of architecture and structural engineering, with its elegant and exceptionally efficient cable-stayed roof design; not dissimilar to the construction of the some of the great bridges of the world,” said Economic Development Corporation Senior Vice President David Kane. “Additionally, the way in which the building is sited, with such tremendous views of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the grand yet inviting nature of its spaces, is a signal of the City’s commitment to design excellence and to the creation of public architecture worthy of our great City.”
In 1999, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Queens Borough President Claire Shulman envisioned a new indoor pool in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Conceived as an intermediate size pool, it was enlarged to meet Olympic standards and an indoor skating rink was added. Construction of the foundation finished in 2001 during the administration of Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern but following 9/11, it was halted due to funding constraints. In 2003, the project was designated to be part of the City’s bid for the 2012 Olympics and Parks partnered with the Economic Development Corporation to implement the new project. A revised design was developed by Handel Architects, LLP in association with Hom & Goldman Architects.
On January 17, 2008 Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg delivered his seventh State of the City address from the floor of the ice rink.
The Olympic-sized pool (25M x 50M), located on the second floor with dramatic views of the park, meets international standards, is ADA-accessible and features ten lanes, surge tanks and overflow gutters. Movable bulkheads can configure the pool into three 25-meter swimming areas, allowing for different programming to take place at once. One-third of the pool has a movable floor that can adjust the depth from just a few inches to 7-feet, 4-inches. The middle section is also 7-feet, 4-inches deep and the third section, the diving tank, is 12-feet, 4-inches deep to allow for diving from the pool’s three diving boards—two 1-meter and one 3-meter. A mezzanine bleacher section seats approximately 414 spectators and an adjacent outdoor terrace will feature additional seating. Public locker rooms, toilets and showers are situated on the second level below the seating.
The new Aquatic Center will be operated and staffed by USA Pools, which has an established reputation in the industry will offer services such as aquatic instruction and added lifesaving training for lifeguards, while saving the city and its taxpayers money.
“USA Pools is excited about the opportunity to work with the City of New York and the Parks Department as we provide effective pool management, highly trained lifeguards and aquatic programming to the New York Community,” said USA Pools Corporate President Troy Legg.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, one of New York City’s prized flagship parks, comprises 1,255 acres of beautifully landscaped lawns, lakes, fountains, athletic fields, playgrounds, and a zoo. The park is also home to the Queens Museum of Art, Shea Stadium and the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center. Once a dumping ground for ashes, the area was transformed in the 1930s by former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses into a site for the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. Both of the World’s Fairs left behind a number of prominent structures in the park, such as the Queens Theater in the Park, the Unisphere, boathouse, marina, the Hall of Science, the New York State Pavilion and Towers, and Terrace on the Park. The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink is located within the park at Avery Avenue and 131st Street in Flushing, Queens.
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