Brookline Memorial Park - 2002
(The Community Center)

Brookline Memorial Park - Summer 2002

Brookline Memorial Park, formerly and still often refered to as the Community Center, in the summer of 2002. Once wooded farmland, this area has undergone quite a change since purchased by the citizens of Brookline in the late '40s. Sold to the city of Pittsburgh for $1 in 1966, this land has been developed into a showcase recreation facility.

In return for that $1, the park has undergone millions of dollars in development. Built in several stages, and completed in 1982, the old Community Center is a beehive of activity year-round, and a lasting testament to the hard work and dedication of our city and community leaders. These individuals, many of whom are no longer with us to witness the fruits of their efforts, will always be endeared in the hearts of the generations of children who pass through these gates.

Below is an Post-Gazette article describing one of the park's often discussed features, the odd glassblock wall by the pool. It details some of the architectural challenges encountered during the Phase 3 development of the area and explains why the wall was erected. It actually does serve a purpose!

To learn more about the 60 year evolution of the Brookline Memorial Park, click here.

Brookline Park Designed To Stand The Test Of Time

Architects L. P. Perfido Associates of Pittsburgh have taken an "unusable" site often plagued by vandals and created a recreation facility that is functional, pleasing to the eye and known to all local children as Brookline Park.

The project was featured in an article by Jim Murphy in the December (1982) issue of Progressive Architecture Magazine, the leading monthly publication in the architectural field, reaching 74,000 professionals.

Titled "Playful Fragments," the article deals with some of the challenges architects faced before completing the much-needed park facility.

In studying the park site, designers discovered a situation not new to Pittsburgh. Mining and excavation, which produce underground flaws, left the only suitable site for the new pool where the existing baseball diamonds were located.

Characterized by steeply sloping hillsides and a gully running across it and into the park beyond, the area for the fields and pool required moving 43,000 cubic yards of earth to make it suitable. The bathhouse wall serves to retain the slopes leading to the access road, according to Murphy.

In designing the bathhouse, architects considered the fact that most swimmers arrived with their suits on, so no extensive changing areas were necessary. There is only one enclosed shower each for men and women, with open showers and lockers in recesses adjacent and at right angles to the bathhouse.

On the hillside above the bathhouse is what the architects and their solar consultants Burt Hill Kosar Rittelman Associates refer to as the "vent wall."

Panels of glass block on the wall face south and allow sunlight to strike a black surface on the wall behind. This technique stores heat and eliminates the damp, dank conditions usually found in most municipal park bathhouses. The heated air actually acts as a sponge for moisture-laden air.

And since parks are predominately for the enjoyment of children, Brookline Park tries to please toddlers by offering then a pool of their own. The tot pool features low walls and a hippopatamos.

Just beyond the tot pool site the guard house. Doing their best to utilize space, the architects opted for a small guard house cosisting of three rooms: a storage room for chlorine, the guard's changing room and a room from which the guard can monitor pool activity.

Land preparation alone had strained the municipal budget for the project, so architects had to be inventive in their use of adornment. In fact, the City's policy directed that only one percent of the construction budget be allotted to art or adornment, and since that budget was taxed enough by extensive earthwork, they had to something meaningful with the art.

Inspired by the fever pitch of Little League activity in Brookline, architects decided that if the youngsters were indeed the pride of the area, they should have a "triumphal arch" to herald their entry to the field of battle. And thanks to the efforts of L. P. Perfido Associates, a wall and triumphal arch mark the entrance to the park while hiding maintenance and garage space.

The front wall of the arch is known to Brookliners as the "Wall of Fame," with niches for plaques. If the city follows through, there will be an annual parade to the arch and the plaque listing the previous years winning athletes will be mounted in its niche.

The wall and arch are in three shades of pink glazed block, in contrast to the water shades of blue and green used on the bath house.

Having started out with the challenge to construct a facility that would resist recurrent vandalism, allow police cruisers good sight lines when driving through at night, save the ballfields, and use an "unusable" site, the architects have done these things well.

But more importantly, they have given Brookline a fine facility that should delight and stand the test of time.

Note: The final cost of the Phase Three development was $1.4 million.
This article reprinted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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