And the award for most beautiful skating rink goes to — Prospect Park!
LeFrak Center at Lakeside won the 2015 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects — better known (after this story is published) as the Oscar of architectural awards — and a borough draftsman and architecture professor agreed that the pavilion improves upon the legacy of Prospect Park’s famous planners.
“In some ways it completes the vision of Vaux and Olmsted,” said Theoharis David, a professor at Pratt Institute and who used to help choose the Honor Award winners. “It links to the past but also looks to the future.”
The firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects designed the pavilion, which opened in 2013 and serves as an ice rink during the colder months and a roller rink and fountain during the summer. The selection committee wrote that LeFrak is both a part of Brooklyn’s sprawling backyard and a monument onto itself.
“The stonework grounds this facility as a landmark within the park, while the openness of the design itself allows for complete amalgamation with the views and the experience of nature,” the jury wrote. “His is a beautiful, natural spot for visitors to enjoy a sensory experience.”
Lakeside also includes two buildings that house a cafe, restrooms, changing areas, party rooms, and mechanical equipment. But their landscaped covering tucks them into the surround green space. The park’s head steward said LeFrak sets a new standard.
“The restoration of Lakeside has set the bar in terms of what can be achieved in Prospect Park,” said Sue Donoghue, president of the Prospect Park Alliance in statement.
The project, which spans nearly 20 football fields, also included the restoration of Music Island and the Esplanade, and improvements to the lake shore, pedestrian paths, picnic areas, and surrounding lawns.
David said the nook is a place for all different people to mingle.
“It’s a wonderful place where people from different areas around the park can come together,” he said. “It acknowledges the changing demographics, and uses of the park.”
The head architect is happy that he was able to complete a project that all Brooklynites can enjoy.
“We feel so lucky to have had this chance to do truly public work. It is the most democratic and thus most important work we can ever do,” said Billie Tsien.