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Parsons Students Help Rescue A Public Pool, With Clever Changing Rooms

NYC Parks & Recreation has tapped students in a design-build program at Parsons The New School for Design to recondition a solid, if not terribly sexy, public pool in Washington Heights. The Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center was one of 11 bathhouses commissioned by Robert Moses and built around New York in 1936 under the Works Progress Administration. Leave it to architecture students to make a WPA-era pool look wildly hip — and give it a wildly hip new name. Behold: Splash House!

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Sounds like some kind of secret rooftop bar in downtown L.A. that forces you to go through a hot dog shop just to get to the elevator, right? Which is just as well. To judge by the renderings, the concept has a light, airy, très-L.A. feel. It’s got slick wood changing rooms and lockers that weave around the pool and existing brick facade. According to Parsons:

Natural systems of light, ventilation and water 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 during peak times, and also a water curtain that functions as a play feature for children.

The point? Highbridge operates as both a pool and a recreation center. At the moment, though, it has to suspend indoor activities in the summer to give poolgoers a place to change. Parsons’s design will let the indoor rec continue year-round. The project should finish up next year.

And it’s only the beginning of a five-year initiative between Parsons and NYC Parks & Rec to “identity and implement improvements in public spaces across the city.” We’d love to see what these guys could do with the sewer system.

[Images courtesy of Parsons]

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