The Highbridge Pool and Rec Center is located in Highbridge Park in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. The pool is always packed in the summer months, and the center houses locker rooms, a basketball court, a dance studio, a computer-resource room, and a game room. While these facilities are in constant use during the non-summer months, the center has to suspend the programs during the summer to make more room for pool visitors. The basketball court is transformed into the men’s locker room, and the after school areas are turned into the women’s, which means that for three months every year, the center can’t offer any indoor programs for the community.
The Splash House is the answer to these problems. An outdoor pavilion, the structure uses the deck space in front of the rec center to provide locker rooms and changing areas. The structure was designed with lightweight, porous material to make it as efficient as possible. Very little lighting is need, as a transparent top allows natural light to flood the space, and the pavilion is oriented to maximize natural ventilation. There is a water curtain that acts as a step-through shower before entering the pool and creates a new play space for children.
The project is the first in a five-year initiative between Parsons and the Parks Department in identifying and implementing improvements at public spaces throughout the city. “We have been impressed by the professionalism and design skills of the talented students at Parsons,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in a statement. “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.”