This collaborative project was submitted in response to an open competition for a new bathhouse, boat launch and storage, picnic facility and park office in Portland, Me. in autumn 2009.
In observing the current state of the waterside facilities at East End Beach, it was first determined that a new site plan was necessary in order to allow future structures and facilities to be developed as neccesary in a manner which would not detract from the site’s prime location adjacent to East End Beach. The proposed site plan was intended to define what were perceived to be suitably occupiable building locations for anything from boat storage to picnic pavilions. The site plan also helped to determine an appropriate scale and location for the main bath house and community center.
Uniting the bulk of the program in one structure for the bathhouse and community center was a priority in the overall design, as the main building serves as an anchor—physically and visually—for the site. This also provides an economical and efficient means of construction and maintainence for the elements that benefit from such adjacency.
The main building is conceived as an elegantly crafted box, whose aesthetic is derived from its construction and siting. The box is wrapped with wooden slats, which conceal the base of the building—and provide privacy in the locker rooms—facing the land. On the waterside of the box, however, the slats wrap over the top and are open to the bay, providing an airy, semi-covered area that frames the water from within. This area can be used as a semi-enclosed picnic space, or a place to drop boats and equipment for the Parks Department.
The ground floor of the box is punctured by a passageway connecting the parking and boat launches to the beach, and providing a common point of access to the building’s functions. From this passageway, users can access the locker rooms or visit the concessions counter. Between the passage and the open space is a floating stair lobby, around and through which visitors can pass. The stair lobby leads to a community meeting room facing the covered open space as well as the Parks Department offices.
The building is designed to function efficiently and flexibly, but more importantly to serve as a built element worthy of its location and providing a structure suitable to the community of Portland.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Portland, ME, US