Making waves – and a house for Splashing
Creando un pabellón para la recreación

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Making waves – and a house for Splashing

Story and photos by Sandra E. García

2013 Parsons School of Design students Amy Obonaga and Rahul Shah stand before the new recreation space they have been building at Highbridge Park.

2013 Parsons School of Design students Amy Obonaga and Rahul Shah stand before the new recreation space they have been building at Highbridge Park.

76 year-old Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is getting a facelift.

And architecture students at Parsons’ The New School For Design have taken on the makeover challenge.

Last year, Parsons students developed Splash House, a pavilion that allowed for visitors and swimmers to store their belongings and change.

As a result, valuable indoor recreation space could continue to be used by community residents year-round, rather than having it be re-purposed as locker rooms.

Over 2,400 swimmers are estimated to visit Highbridge daily in the summer months.

The pavilion was completely constructed and designed by the students, who worked as clients of the New York City Parks Department.

This year, Highbridge Park is in queue for another pick-me-up – an expansion upon its first.

2013 candidates for masters’ degrees in architecture from Parsons have developed a new design that will open the front entrance of the park, modernize and create a new space that can be used year round as well.

“We were getting input on what [was] needed,” explained Amy Obonaga, a member of the 2013 graduate class. “We went to a lot of meetings with [the Parks Department], and with different departments letting us know what they need.”

The design has been dubbed “Highbridge: influx” because it allows for the traffic of the park to fluidly move through the center.

The project is part of Design/Build Workshop, a program started in 1996, which provides students with real experience as they undertake pro bono work.

The students conceive, design and construct the project.

2012 Masters recipient Luke Keddins recalls the reality of taking the concept from the drawing board into fruition, and the lessons learned.

“As designers, most of what we do in school stays on the paper,” said Keddins. “This is one of the few projects where we get to see our design through completion. I feel like I learned more from this than any other design project.”

For the 2013 candidates, seeking to create a more fully realized enclosed programmatic space meant relying on the experience and knowledge earned by their predecessors.

“The idea is to be able to play basketball and swim,” said John Brandes, now a Teaching Assistant (TA) employed by Parsons, was part of the original design team of students who designed Splash House.

“We came back as TA’s to help the new group of students and to finish our design of Splash House,” he explained.

The 2013 students appreciate the partnership.

This is the first time  a graduating class from Parsons has returned to aid the students on the current design team, and the assistance seems to have bolstered creativity and ingenuity.

“There was a need to connect the north and south wings and provide an entrance space and a multi-purpose space,” said Rahul Shah, a Parsons 2013 candidate for masters in architecture who helped design “in_flux.”

The collaboration has extended itself also to the relationship forged with the Parks Department.

“The New York City Parks Department provided us with the program and its desires for the site so that drove our design decision,” added Obonaga.

The journey undertaken was a long one for the students, as Highbridge is classified an official New York City landmark.

But their hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“NYC Parks’ Architects and Urban Designers are helping oversee the students’ work. We already helped secure community and Landmarks Preservation Commission approvals,” explained Jennifer M. Hoppa, the Administrator of Northern Manhattan.

“We’ve shaped the design to help ensure it meets NYC Parks’ standards, is compatible with our landmark structure, and results in a more dynamic and exciting year-round Recreation Center.

The students have been wonderful to work with.”

And the exchange appears to have been of mutual value.

“We learn what it takes to get a project built in New York City, which is an amazing feat for students to accomplish,” said Shah.

“Also we learn how to make our way through all the steps to get something built in New York City but also how to take a project from conception to reality and really think about how things are put together.”

For Brandens, seeing the Splash House in actual use reminded him of why he decided to enroll at Parsons in the first place.

“This project is something we put eight month of efforts into. Being able to finish that is amazing,” said Brandes.

Luke Keddins and John Brandens, 2012 graduates, are back to finish the project they started last year and help the new team of designers. “This project is something we put eight month of efforts into,” said Brandens. “To finish that is amazing.”

Luke Keddins and John Brandens, 2012 graduates, are back to finish the project they started last year and help the new team of designers. “This project is something we put eight month of efforts into,” said Brandens. “To finish that is amazing.”

And he’s not alone in his enthusiasm.

The work group at the Highbridge is visited, frequently, by onlookers eager to get on-site.

“We get a lot of questions from kids through the fence,” admitted Brandes.

The Splash House is expected to be finishded in a month and the “in_flux” project should be completed by Fall 2013.

To donate to the new “in_flux” project, please visit the project team’s website at 

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1207722809/highbridge-in-flux or at sce.parsons.edu/designworkshop-influx/

Creando un pabellón para la recreación

Historia y fotos por Sandra E. García

Luke Keddins and John Brandens, 2012 graduates, are back to finish the project they started last year and help the new team of designers. “This project is something we put eight month of efforts into,” said Brandens. “To finish that is amazing.”El Centro Recreativo y Piscina Highbridge Park el cual data de 76 años, hace tiempo está necesitado de una renovación, y los estudiantes de arquitectura de The New School for Design han asumido el reto.

El pasado año, los estudiantes de Parsons desarrollaron Splash House, un pabellón que permite que sea utilizado la porción de recreación del centro durante el verano, en lugar de convertirlo en vestidores para los visitantes a la piscina.

El pabellón fue construido totalmente y diseñado por los estudiantes, quienes trabajaron como clientes del Departamento de Parques de la Ciudad de Nueva York.

Este año Highbridge Park espera su turno para más desarrollo y planes.

Los candidatos del 2013 para maestrías en arquitectura de Parsons, han desarrollado un nuevo diseño que abrirá la puerta principal del parque, además de modernizar y crear un espacio que puede ser utilizado durante todo el año.

El diseño esta apodado “Highbridge: en estado de cambio” porque permite que el tráfico del parque sea movilizado con fluidez por todo el centro.

Sin el trabajo de la clase del 2012, los candidatos del 2013 no podrían crear un espacio cerrado programable en Highbridge, permitiendo un mejor tráfico en el centro de recreación  lo que hace un llamado para que regresen los graduandos del 2012 como internos.

“La idea es poder jugar baloncesto y nadar”, John Brandes quien es ahora (TA) Asistente de Maestro, contratado por Parsons pero fue parte de un equipo de diseño de estudiantes quienes diseñaron Splash House.

“Nosotros regresamos como TA para ayudar al nuevo grupo de estudiantes y terminar nuestro diseño de Splash House”, agregó Brandes.

Los nuevos estudiantes aprecian la asociación de la clase graduanda, siendo esta la primera vez que una clase graduanda de Parsons ha retornado para ayudar a los estudiantes del actual equipo de diseño, y con la ayuda extra se han enfocado en las necesidades de la comunidad de Washington Heights.

“Existía la necesidad de conectar las alas norte y sur y proporcionar un espacio de entrada y un espacio multi-uso”, dijo Rahul Shah, candidato en 2013 para una maestría en arquitectura quien ayudo a diseñar in-flux.

“El Departamento de Parques de la Ciudad de Nueva York nos proporcionó el programa y lo que querían y esto nos motivó a la decisión del diseño”, dijo Amy Obonaga candidata también para una maestría en arquitectura en 2013.

La aceptación del diseño fue importante para esta clase, ya que la piscina de Highbridge es considerado monumento histórico de la Ciudad de Nueva York.

El equipo de diseño tuvo que presentarlo ante la Junta Comunitaria 12, el comité de parques en la Junta Comunitaria, y el Departamento de Monumentos, pero la retroalimentación siempre ha sido bien acogida.

“Estábamos recibiendo una gran retroalimentación de la junta comunitaria, estábamos recibiendo elogio de manera que todo funcionó bien”, dijo Obonaga.

“El Departamento de Parques era nuestro cliente así que recibíamos información sobre lo que necesitaban, asistimos a muchas reuniones con ellos, y en cada reunión nos reunimos con diferentes departamentos dentro del Departamento de Parques, por tanto nos dejaban saber lo que necesitaban”, agregó ella.

El equipo se reunió con representantes del Departamento de Recreación, con representantes de la infraestructura de personal de trabajo, el Departamento de Arquitectura, el Departamento de Monumentos a fin de poder cumplir y satisfacer

“En cada reunión nos dieron datos sobre cómo reaccionar ante cada aspecto del Departamento de Parques”, dijo Shah.

Aunque el Highbridge Park y los residentes de Washington Heights están recibiendo una gran actualización a su comunidad, los estudiantes en el equipo de diseño están recibiendo también valiosas lecciones.

2013 Parsons School of Design students Amy Obonaga and Rahul Shah stand before the new recreation space they have been building at Highbridge Park.“Aprendemos que se necesita para construir un proyecto en la Ciudad de Nueva York, lo cual resulta ser una estupenda hazaña para ser lograda por los estudiantes”, dijo Shah.

“También aprendemos como pasar por todas las etapas para lograr construir algo en la Ciudad de Nueva York y llevar un proyecto desde su concepción hasta la realidad y pensar realmente como se logran las cosas”, agrego Shah.

“Este proyecto es algo en lo cual hemos invertido ocho meses de esfuerzos y poder terminarlo es increíble”, dijo Brandes.

“El poder ayudar al próximo grupo terminar su diseño es la razón por la cual vine a Parsons”