Vacated for more than 20 years, the 1936 McCarren Pool, a Robert-Moses era landmark, has been brought back to its original the grandeur, updated and added on to for contemporary uses. A year-round indoor recreation and community center now occupy the historic bathhouse and the pool, completely rebuilt, offers a new ‘beach’ peninsula which transforms into an ice skating rink in the winter.
Modern insertions within and adjacent to the original buildings defer to historic elements - the main archway entrance, the symmetry of the wings, and the exposed concrete ribs and vaults of the interior structure - and engage details from the building’s history, materials and function. The symmetry of the plan informs the location of new changing pavilions poolside. These poured-in-place concrete structures are lightweight, modern interpretations of McCarren’s own canopy overlook. Inside the bathhouse wings, the concrete structure remains exposed in the restoration with new clerestories for visual continuity of the original vaults and added daylight. The community center contains a basketball court, weight and cardio areas as well as multipurpose meeting rooms and offices. The original wire storage baskets for swimmers were discovered and reused on the ceiling of the two building lobbies. Salvaged wood planks from the Coney Island boardwalk were refinished and line many of the walls of the community rooms and pavilions.