Size: 5827 Square Feet
Year Complete: 1995
Type: Interior Gut Renovation
& Reuse in a Historic Building
Prior to being given the use of the historic Tennis House in Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment operated out of a Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone.
The Tennis House building was designed by Helmle and Huberty Architects and built in 1910 in response to the huge popularity of lawn tennis at the end of the 19th century. At one point, three hundred tennis courts crowded the meadow but as the popularity of lawn tennis wained, the Tennis House became a storage building, a role it served for the next 60 years but effectively cutting it off from the public access.
The relocation of BCUE to this building was a chance to engage the public with this historic structure once again.
BCUE ran public and school programs to enable deep engagement with the urban and natural environment.
Mike was engaged to produce rendering of how the new facility would sit within the building. The resulting drawings were used to raise the funds to build the project. When enough funds had been accumulated, Mike was hired to design and produce construction documents and oversee construction.
A big driver to the approach to the project stemmed from the problem of being able to get enough ventilation air into the underground spaces in order to be able to use them for classrooms. The necessary ductwork took up a significant amount of space so it was carefully integrated into a furred out exhibit surface in the public areas. This furred out surface also acts as a path to follow from the colonnaded ground floor above and constitutes a primary new feature in the design.
The programmed spaces consist of a temporary exhibit area, a hands-on nature area, two classrooms, a lab space, new administration offices, refurbished bathrooms and a new entry plus signage.