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Merit Award -- Design

Eib's Pond Park Outdoor Classroom
Staten Island, New York

Landscape Design by Linda Pollak, Principal of Marpillero Pollak Architects

Linda Pollak
Architect and Landcape Designer, Marpillero Pollak Architects
132 Duane Street, #1
New York, NY 10013
Tel: 212-619-5560
Fax: 212-619-5561
mpstudio@aol.com

We established the requirements for the outdoor classroom working with teachers from PS 57, the primary school across the street from the park. Siting was determined in part by the desire to keep it within a five-minute walk from the school, so that it could be used for classes. It can seat up to 28 children and their teachers, allowing access to but also protecting the fragile wetland zone. Issues of security, and ability to withstand exposure to vandalism have played a significant role.

The Outdoor Classroom has been built as an "activating structure," in Phase One of a multi-year project for Eib's Pond Park. The small structure enhances the seventeen-acre wetland park's extraordinary potential as wildlife refuge, educational environment, and social center. The Classroom is both a destination to be attained and an entry point towards new environmental experiences. It hovers over its wetland site, weaving together land, water, city, and park. Its purpose is to reveal its surroundings, and make them physically and psychologically available in new ways.

The classroom is about connections: the park's accessible main path transforms into its entry ramp; a pier extends out from its deck over the pond; a nesting wall engages the bird habitat of the adjacent birch tree; a porous floor marks and supports the wetland zone beneath. The structure is built with redwood gathered from a sustainable forest and recycled plastic lumber.

Philosophy and intent: The project focuses on how an urban wetland area can contribute to identity, by articulating complex relations between city and nature.

Community Context/ Entrant's Responsibility/How Accomplished: We have designed classroom and park working closely with community and school groups in this low-income underserved sector of Staten Island. We (entrant and partner) have been responsible for all design work on the park and the classroom. Material costs were covered by a non-profit organization. We used sketches and a large framing model of the structure to guide the construction of the classroom over two summers by AmeriCorps volunteers. Eib's Pond Park is unique in being the only freshwater wetland park in a low- income neighborhood in all of New York City. Its situation translates into an almost total lack of public funding. The project brings the benefits of landscape architecture to a place where they would not otherwise exist. So far, the classroom and the double-seat bridge have given communities around Eib's Pond Park new ways to inhabit and enjoy the park.

2002 Award Winners
Press Releases
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