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Olmsted Center

Project Type

Cultural & Civic

Occupancy

Phase I - 2014

Location

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NYC

Client

NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
"This is a valley of ashes, a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens…"
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

This renovation and expansion of the Olmsted Center provides an opportunity for the use of innovative, pioneering sustainability strategies. The existing facility is a pre-engineered structure specified for the 1964-65 World’s Fair as an administration center, which was later inherited by the Capital Projects Division of the City Department of Parks & Recreation. The agency’s desire to remain at this location, which sits four feet below the FEMA 100-year flood plain, coupled with its need for more program space and its target of LEED Gold certification, gave rise to ambitious efforts in addressing the issue of rising currents. (The site was navigable by boat after Hurricane Sandy.) To achieve a sustainable site that both celebrates the beauty of water systems and works in tandem with extensive flood control strategies, a network of structured and natural features will be implemented. These include wetland retention areas showcased as rain gardens and a raised water channel system that will convey, treat and exhibit storm water runoff throughout the property. Meanwhile, the new 10,000-square foot addition, raised to a height above the flood plain, celebrates the engineering ingenuity of the 1964 structure with its exposed steel structure that is incorporated into the exterior architecture of the building. Once completed, the new administration center will be a symbol of the agency’s civic role as the steward of New York City’s public parks and park structures.

Publications:
Why We Build the City: NYC’s Design + Construction Excellence Program, ORO Editions, published 2013
“Updated 1964/65 World’s Fair Structure to House NYC Parks and Rec Office,” Building Design+Construction, March 2015

Collaborators:
NYC Department of Design & Construction – construction administration; Judith Heintz landscape architect; Wallace, Roberts & Todd (WRT) – landscape architects; Weidlinger Associates – structural; Sherwood Design Engineers – civil/stormwater management; Buro Happold – MEP; James Gainfort Consulting Architects – exterior wall consultant; Viridian – LEED commissioning; Horton Lees Brogden – lighting design

Photos by Raimund Koch