In 2006 a small group of community activists founded themselves as the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and started restoring the beach dunes, holding environmental classes for children and advocating for improving the beach and derelict parks in the Far Rockaways. Due to their efforts when Mayor Bloomberg unveiled PlaNYC, a long-term planning vision for the city that included $1.2 billion in new funding for projects city-wide. Far RockawayBeach was included as one of five new regional parks envisioned by PlaNYC. The site is composed of 28 acres of new and existing park along the beachfront facing the Atlantic Ocean. Extensive community consultations helped define important goals for the Park, primarily the need to reconnect the neighborhood with a renovated and revitalized beach front through better access and increased amenities.
The Masterplan, developed in collaboration with landscape architects Quennell Rothschild & Partners, created opportunities for three new beach amenities that needed unique structures: a performance lawn; a boardwalk overlook at Beach 20 Street; and a new comfort station and Pavilion at Beach 30 Street. These architectural structures are located along primary paths that link the neighborhood to the boardwalk, with each situated to interact effectively with the landscape amenities—including the reconstructed dune landscape, which will be protected in active areas, with trails located in less active areas. Inspired by the image of beachgoers enjoying the Rockaways, we elaborated a vocabulary of forms reminiscent of parasols, gull wings and fabric flapping in the wind to give a strong identity to these gathering places. Beach 30th Pavilion is a structure mean to provide a shelter and rest stop for Beach activities. The 3000 sf structure is composed of two program elements that are reflected in the structure itself: An exterior lounge and gathering space under a roof, and a comfort station facing the Beach 30th park entrance and connected to the playground. The building is meant to be a large scale shade structure and mixes both skylights and oval cutouts. The largest porthole has a planted area directly beneath to introduce a dune landscape directly into the building. Slender columns hold light fixture adding up-lighting to the roof in the evenings – creating a focal point along the boardwalk. The materials used update the traditional brick and concrete comfort station in a playful way. Glazed brick in five different tones of green results in a palette that reads as an urban dune “camouflage” relating to the varying colors of the dune grasses over the seasons. Glass block vertical stripes mixed with windows allow the spaces to be lit with natural light. Cool green glazed brick fully cladding the interior adds to the idea that you are in the dunes.