A recreation facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, built during the Works Progress Administration era will get some tender love and care that will allow it to better serve its community. On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved work at the Sunset Park Recreation Center, located at 4200 7th Avenue, between 41st and 44th streets.
Designed by Herbert Magoon, Aymar Embury II, and Henry Ahrens, it was built as the Sunset Play Center between 1934 and 1936. Sunset Park, designated an individual and interior landmark in 2007, was one of 11 such WPA pools in New York City. Last year, the LPC also approved work at the Bronx’s Crotona Play Center and the McCarren Play Center, which straddles Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
Sunset was originally intended for seasonal pool use, but is now open for some sort of use year-round. The HVAC system is in dire need of an upgrade. The temperature on the gymnasium basketball court has been measured at 105 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. There will be work throughout the building, but only work on the exterior and the first floor rotunda falls under the jurisdiction of the LPC. There will be new grills on the interior and minimally visible condensers on the roof.
Kate Burke of TriBeCa-based Sage and Coombe Architects said other work, mostly of a restorative nature, will be undertaken. Banners and signage (except the large “SUNSET PLAY CENTER” lettering) will be removed from the front of the building as will non-original fencing and a non-original railing. That will be replaced with a glass storefront with an ADA-accessible front door, which will enclose the rotunda, and a large modern Parks Department logo above it. Similar non-original material will be removed from the rear, and the existing clock will be restored.
In the rotunda, signage will be restored and a new desk installed. A white panel was proposed on the soffit as part of the roll-down gate that will protect the building when it is closed, though that particular part of the proposal was not met with open arms. Commissioners Frederick Bland, Adi Shamir-Baron and Michael Devonshire spoke up about how it will clash with the existing brick. LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan also had concerns about the framing and glazing of the new entrance.
Brooklyn Community Board 7, for its part, recommended approval of the project. In the end, the commissioners also approved it, with unanimity, but requested the Parks Department and Sage and Coombe work with the LPC staff to possibly refine or reduce the white on the rotunda soffit, and to work on the details of the glass framing and glazing.