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Behind the Scenes at Prospect Park's In-Progress Lakeside

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When Wollman Rink was built more than 60 years ago in Prospect Park, the ice skating rink was plopped down on five acres of the park's lake, completely obliterating mini islands and the lake's natural shoreline. But now, thanks to the new $74 million Lakeside development, the park's architects have restored the lakeshore to its original Olmsted-Vaux beauty, recreating a cove, Music Island, and the waterfront esplanade, which features original pieces of the park that were found in the fill beneath Wollman Rink. For Open House New York, Lakeside opened its construction gates, and the park's landscape architect Christian Zimmerman lead a tour of the park's "21st Century layer."

The 26-acre Lakeside project features a 25,000-square-foot building by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects that is the first new structure to be built in Prospect Park since the park was landmarked in the late 1960s. The center replaces Wollman Rink, but it sits atop of an old parking lot, so no parkland was destroyed. In fact, the project actually adds parkland because the roofs of the two buildings will be sloping green roofs that completely blend into the parkscape. Trees and woodlands will be planted so the structure will be almost entirely hidden from view to visitors on Park Drive. The roofs will be connected by a pedestrian bridge, with a path winding through so park-goers can experience Lakeside without actually being near the ice skating rinks.

In the winter, there will be 30,000-square-feet of ice, part of which is covered by a giant blue canopy. Not only does the canopy shield the rink from harsh weather, but it also blocks the sun, cutting down on the amount of energy it will take to freeze this ice. Because of the canopy, Lakeside will qualify for LEED certification, and the ice will be useable for a longer period. The north building will have skate rentals, lockers, and security, while the east building will have a cafe and the "back of the house." There will be no fences around the entire development, so park-goers can use the facilities or the cafe without having to skate. In the summer, the uncovered portion of the rink will be a water feature, and the covered side be a roller skating rink.

Near Music Island, the shoreline is exactly what Olmsted and Vaux designed, and part of the retaining wall is even original. The walkway is lined with 25,000-square-feet of blue stone, and the iron railing around the lake is a replica based on old photos and the pieces that were found under Wollman Rink. On the east side of the esplanade, Zimmerman and the design team created a new seating area that pushes the shoreline out and extends the walkway.

Starting next week, the esplanade will be opening to the public on weekends, and Lakeside should be welcoming its first skaters next November.
· Music Island Once Again Grows in Prospect Park [Curbed]
· Lakeside [official]
· Lakeside coverage [Curbed]