The Sunset Play Center is one of a group of eleven immense outdoor swimming pools opened in the summer of 1936 in a series of grand ceremonies presided over by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Park Commissioner Robert Moses. All of the pools were constructed largely with funding provided by the Works Progress Administration. The complexes generally employed low-cost building materials, principally brick and cast concrete, and often utilized the streamlined and curvilinear forms of the popular 1930s Art Moderne style. Each had separate swimming, diving and wading pools, and a large bath house with locker room sections which doubled as gymnasiums in non-swimming months.
Designed by Herbert Magoon, the Sunset Play Center is set within the 24.5-acre site of Sunset Park. Displacing a small lake, play areas and pathways, construction of the Sunset Play Center resulted in a major redesign of the eastern half of the park. The design of the bath house entrance is one of the most distinctive features of the Sunset Play Center with its giant corner piers that frame the one-and-a-half-story rotunda. The unusual shape of the rotunda, with its stacked cylindrical brick walls, hints at the remarkable lobby awaiting bathers inside.
Interior: The play center’s bath house lobby is distinguished by patterned flooring of glazed brick, ceramic tile and blue stone, smooth light-colored walls rising above the brick-faced entrances into the locker rooms, contrasting decorative brick of the clerestory level above, and, repeating the treatment of the lower walls, the light-colored smooth undersurface of the ceiling from which Art Moderne style copper lamps suspend. The plan of the lobby evokes an ancient rotunda with enclosed porticos, grand entrances and clerestory windows. The clerestory level and the sweeping brick curved walls of the central portion of the lobby give the space a monumental feel that also invite patrons into the structure.
*Excerpt from the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark
Sunset Park’s standout building type is the masonry rowhouse. In fact, Sunset Park contains one of the earliest and most extensive concentrations of two-family masonry rowhouses in the city. Mostly built between 1885 and 1912, these stunning blocks are accented by commercial thoroughfares and institutional...Explore the Neighborhood >
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