A monument to wellbeing

Tuesday 26 Jun 2012

Mark Cavagnero Associates and Paulett Taggart Architects create new centrepiece San Francisco's Larsen Park

This project replaces the popular but deteriorated public pool facility in Larsen Park along 19th Avenue with a new indoor pool for recreation and competitive use. The building is sited and designed for its unique conditions - a heavily used public facility located in a public park that fronts a major vehicular thoroughfare on one side and residential neighbourhood on the other. Larsen Park is an underutilised, but significant green space in the Sunset District of San Francisco. To maximise open space and retain mature trees the new indoor pool facility is designed as a compact series of forms at the southern end of the park. The building nestles into the sloped park landscape at the north and has expansive windows on the south taking advantage of the views of Stern Grove.

The building, a series of simple yet monumental interlocking forms, is made of architecturally exposed cast-in-place concrete and aluminum curtain wall system - sustainable materials selected for their durability and suitability for a pool and a park setting. The curtain wall pattern is carefully articulated to create a contrast to the monumental concrete forms. Panels of hand-crafted ceramic tiles add complexity to the exterior walls, allowing the walls to read both as large planes and as flanked frames that turn around the building further enhancing its volume.

The support functions are housed in the lower building form and the natatorium is housed in the taller form. The forms are set on a plinth that lends clarity to the interlocking forms. The support building wall extends along 19th Avenue to provide a strong architectural presence and shelter the courtyard from the noise and distractions of 19th Avenue. The courtyard and light-filled entry welcome visitors off of the quieter Wawona Street. The courtyard, which provides outdoor space for daily use, as well as meets and special events, enjoys a southern sun exposure and views of Stern Grove.

This project is a joint venture of Mark Cavagnero Associates and Paulett Taggart Architects. Mark Cavagnero Associates was responsible for the concept. The design was developed collaboratively with Mark Cavagnero Associates responsible for the exterior shell and Paulett Taggart Architects responsible for the interior architecture and systems.

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