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Landmarked Recreation Center May Become Year-Round Facility

By Carla Zanoni | May 8, 2012 12:02pm

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A landmarked uptown recreation center may soon become a year-round facility if a group of architecture and design students are given the green light by the city. 

Students from the Design Workshop at Parsons The New School for Design hope to build a new enclosure in front of the Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center in Highbridge Park — one of 11 city pools built in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The new space would provide children and adults a sun-drenched community space to gather while enjoying sports and recreational activities at Amsterdam Avenue and West 173rd Street. It was designed as part of a program that provides pro bono architectural and construction services to nonprofit groups while giving graduate students hands-on experience.

"The intent of this project is to enclose this center space, enabling year-round access through the historic center," according to the group’s Facebook page about the center inside Highbridge Park. 

The space is currently closed off when the pool season is in full swing because of the configuration of the building. 

Because the Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is a landmarked site, the plan needs approval from the Landmarks and Preservation Commission, which will review the plan on Tuesday.

The plan received preliminary approval in the form of a resolution during a Community Board 12 Parks and Cultural Affairs committee meeting on May 3. The full board will vote on the resolution during its general meeting on May 24. 

Funds for the $200,000 project have been raised through City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez’s office as well as from students and private donations, a Parsons official said. 

The design plan comes fresh on the heels of another Parsons project at the recreation center called the Splash House, a seasonal outdoor locker and changing pavilion near the pool. 

Parsons students designed and built the Splash House last summer with community volunteers. The new facility is scheduled to open in late June when the swim season begins.