(c) Elizabeth Felicella - © Steven Holl Architects

Whitney Water Purification Facility and Park // Steven Holl Architects

CT, United States

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This water purification plant and park uses water and its purification process as the guiding metaphors for its design. Its program consists of water treatment facilities located beneath a public park and a 360-foot-long stainless steel sliver that encloses the client’s public and operational programs. Like an inverted drop of water, the sliver expresses the workings of the plant below.

(c) Elizabeth Felicella - © Steven Holl Architects

(c) Elizabeth Felicella - © Steven Holl Architects

Its shape creates a curvilinear interior space open to a large window view of the surrounding landscape while its exterior reflects the horizon in the landscape.
The public park is comprised of six sectors that are analogous to the six stages of the water treatment in the plant. The change in scale from molecular scale of the purification process below ground to the landscape above is celebrated in an interpretation of microscopic morphologies as landscape sectors.

(c) Steven Holl Architects - © Steven Holl Architects

(c) Steven Holl Architects - © Steven Holl Architects

The park’s “micro to macro” reinterpretation results in unexpected and challenging material-spatial aspects. For example, in a field formed by the green roof, which corresponds to ozonation bubbling, there are “bubble” skylight lenses that bring natural light to the treatment plant below. In the landscape area corresponding to filtration, vine wall elements on trellises define a public entrance court.

(c) Paul Warchol - © Steven Holl Architects

(c) Paul Warchol - © Steven Holl Architects

Following the natural laws of gravity, water flows across the site and within the purification plant. As the water courses through its turns and transformations toward its final clean state, it creates microprogram potentials within the vast space of the new park. Aligned along the base of the sliver are water pumps that distribute clean water to the region.
Given the urgent need to manage and conserve water resources, this project is an example of today’s best sustainable design measures and water shed management practices.

(c) Paul Warchol - © Steven Holl Architects

(c) Paul Warchol - © Steven Holl Architects

Indeed, it even includes the enlargement of an existing wetland into a vibrant microenvironment that increases biodiversity..

(c) Steven Holl Architects - © Steven Holl Architects

(c) Steven Holl Architects - © Steven Holl Architects

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