Emeryville’s Doyle Hollis Park

Thoughtful design is not something one expects to find in the restroom buildings of public parks. Usually, one settles for adequate light and ventilation along with functional plumbing. So it is a pleasure to publish a noteworthy example of thoughtful, even elegant, design in the restroom facilities of the City of Emeryville’s Doyle Hollis Park, which opened in September 2009 on 62nd Street between Doyle and Hollis Streets.

The rectangular concrete building, designed by Endres Ware, an East Bay architecture and engineering firm, incorporates a variety of  sustainable elements including “green roof” made of grass and other vegetation that decreases the rainwater runoff and protects the roofing system. A plumbing chase in the center of the bathroom has a grey water filtration system to receive excess drainage from the roof and enable irrigation for nearby landscaping,

A vines grown on tensions wires strung vertically on the end walls will soften the effect of the concrete, which contains high fly-ash/slag  content and protects the walls from weathering.

Natural light for the interior is provided by skylights, shown above, made of heavy glass tiles like those used in the New York subway stations. They occupy sections of the roofs over the men’s and women’s rooms.

Metal screens above and below the recessed wood section on the back wall allow air to enter the building.  The warm Ipe wood boards compliment the cool concrete, and the handsome stainless steel plumbing fixtures are convincingly durable.

If attention  to materials and details produces the kind of successful design shown here we might wonder why we don’t find it in other equally deserving public parks.  John Ware’s explanation is that the design for such facilities is often such a low budget priority that standard off-the-shelf  designs are used to save time and money.  Fortunately for the Doyle Hollis Park users, Endres Ware’s design process was driven by a desire to improve both the quality of the light and the need for abundant natural ventilation. What a difference these concerns can make!

3 Responses

  1. Zachary Kunstman says:

    How wonderful of a design. Are you able to give a probable cost of how much this may cost another community to design and have in their neighborhood parks? I am doing a study to look at different designs.

  2. Sally Woodbridge says:

    I appreciate Huzefal’s comment. I try to write about projects that don’t register in the mainstream coverage of design.

  3. Huzefa says:

    This piece is great. At a time when architectural magazines are focused on the high culture programs like museums or the one-off cool house, it’s great you took the time to look into a project who’s program I have never seen discussed. Thank you.

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