Highbridge Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Splash House Coming To Highbridge

Photo by Daniel Avila

On July 26, Parks, in partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) and Home Depot, celebrated the start of construction on the “Splash House” pavilion at the Highbridge Recreation Center.

Around 75 volunteers from Home Depot and the Washington Heights community participated in a day of service to help makeover the Highbridge Recreation Center and introduce the brand new Splash House. The outdoor Splash House – a pool pavilion with changing and locker areas – is being made possible through a partnership with the Design Workshop at Parsons The New School for Design and through support from Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, and will allow the Recreation Center to remain open for sports and fitness activities throughout the summer. The Claudio Reyna Foundation also held a free soccer clinic at the event.

Parsons The New School for Design joined with Parks and the City Parks Foundation through its innovative design-build studio, The Design Workshop, to design a new pool pavilion, Splash House. The project represents the first of a five-year initiative between NYC Parks & Recreation and Parsons Design Workshop to identify and implement improvements in public spaces across the city.

“We have been impressed by the professionalism and design skills of the talented students at Parsons,” said Commissioner Benepe. “From the master planning process through the various design iterations, and now the construction phase on site, they have worked diligently and intelligently to meet the community’s needs. We are looking forward to increasing recreational opportunities at the Highbridge Center.”

The Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is part of the Highbridge Park and one of 11 city pools built in 1936 through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) and commissioned by then Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Today, it is a highly popular pool during the summer months, and also serves the Washington Heights neighborhood as a recreation and community center during the rest of the year. The Center houses a basketball court, dance studio, computer resource center, and a billiards room. Because of its dual function, recreation programs must be suspended over the summer to accommodate the space required for the large number of pool-goers. This requires an extensive conversion twice a year of the interior spaces into locker rooms.

The Design Workshop project, Splash House, is an outdoor pavilion that allows the recreation center to remain open year-round and offer more recreational programs to the Washington Heights community. The design reorganizes the current circulation and provides new changing and locker areas. Splash House uses natural systems of light, ventilation and water to make a lightweight and efficient porous structure, which remains sensitive to its historic context. It includes sliding doors, which allow the locker area to be converted into additional changing rooms, and also a water curtain that functions as a play feature for children. In addition to the design and construction of Splash House, the Design Workshop students also created a master plan for the center that outlines future improvements.

“Over the past two decades, the Parsons Design Workshop has pioneered the practice of urban design-build in the university context,” said Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons The New School for Design. “Through our work with Parks & Recreation, we will tap the expertise accumulated over the course of the program to re-imagine and improve some of the city’s most important public spaces.”

Splash House is made possible through the support of Major League Soccer W.O.R.K.S and Home Depot, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, the John L. Tishman Scholarships for Sustainable Development, Design and Construction, Alan C. Wanzenberg, Binational Softwood Lumber Council and Idaho Forest Group, Ronstan, Isseks Brothers Inc, Jakob Webnet, Richlite, Civetta Cousins, Creative Finishes, Striano Electric, Long Island Concrete, and Sciame.


“There must be more to life than having everything.”

Maurice Sendak
(1928 - )

Directions to Highbridge Park

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