The new 3,100 s.f. Park House in Washington Square is a quietly modern building packed with a substantial amount of program: ADA-accessible public restrooms, office space for the district headquarters of the NYC Parks Dept., maintenance and break rooms for park staff, and unique mechanical spaces'most notably the pumps that operate the park's beloved display fountain. The building has a small footprint, architecturally and environmentally. Both its single-story form, which adheres to the curvature of the pathway, and its natural material composition help minimize its intrusiveness in the park. A trellis, composed of reclaimed redwood, projects beyond a continuous colonnade of regionally sourced granite, rendering it more like a park pavilion structure than a busy service building. In time the trellis will become covered with flowering vines. The stone colonnade embodies the solidity of civic architecture while functionally screening traffic into the building.
Building systems further minimize the structure's impact on the immediate and greater environment. A solar panel array and ground-source heat pumps eliminate bulky on-site equipment as well as noise pollution to avoid distracting from the naturalness of the park. Another bonus: the systems reduce the energy demand of the building to almost nil. Nearly 70% of the project's building materials were regionally sourced, and more than 30% of the same were manufactured with recycled materials. The building was sited to take advantage of existing foundations of former park buildings, to minimize necessary excavation and protect the park's archaeologically significant grounds. Furthermore, vegetative filter strips line pedestrian pathways, alleviating the sewer overflow system during heavy rainfall. All of these initiatives help put the project on track for LEED Platinum certification, which is being sought.
The structure has been warmly embraced by much of the Greenwich Village community since opening in early 2014.