Bronx river greenway river house

Bronx river greenway river house

Kiss + Cathcart Architects
Broooklyn, United States
Project Year
Primary Schools

Bronx river greenway river house

Kiss + Cathcart Architects as Architects

The Bronx River Greenway River House is the base of operations for the restoration and operation of the Bronx River Greenway and the adjacent portion of the Bronx River. The Bronx River Alliance will occupy the building and manage it on behalf of the park and public and community groups.

The approximately 7,000 square foot structure includes a boat house capable of storing approximately 30 canoes and 9 kayaks, and other boats. An administrative and office area will accommodate 20 Bronx River Alliance staff. Spaces for use by the public and schools include a nature classroom and a multipurpose community room. Our project is a living part of the park. A screen wall made of galvanized steel and mesh wraps the entire building, providing a secure perimeter, and a surface for vines to grow. The seasonal vines create a favorable microclimate, transpiring water collected from the roof during hot months to significantly lower the air temperature around the building envelope. The vegetated area of the green screens is greater than the footprint of the building, providing as much vegetation as the site would have had in an undeveloped state.

Starlight Park lies at the center of the lower stretch of the Bronx River, between the green of the Bronx Botanical Gardens and Bronx Zoo, and the river’s discharge into the East River..This stretch of the Bronx River, long neglected, is being restored by a number of interested groups, including the Bronx River Alliance, who will use River House as a base for environmental programming and educational operations. The river around the project is being turned into a park and Greenway by the New York State Department of Transportation.

This building is literally a part of the park. It is clad with a double skin of moss and vines, a dynamic, vertical extension of the landscape. The green skin changes with the seasons and provides habitat for birds and insects. Because of the high Leaf Area Index of the mosses and vines, the river house site potentially will have twice as much leaf area (and biological productivity) as the site would have had as a temperate forest.

The building structure is AAC (Aerated Autoclaved Concrete) block - a lightweight, insulating material, topped with wood trusses and a wood roof. On the outside, the AAC is finished with stucco, and a shingled cement board rain screen to accommodate the moss wall and integrated irrigation system.

River House uses a number of energy efficiency strategies, including a highly insulating envelope, extensive daylighting, with indirect overhead light and windows seasonally shaded by the vine screen, and a ground source heat pump with radiant floor heating.

A 48 kW PV system is mounted on the daylight roof monitors. All the rainwater will be captured from the roof and used to flush toilets, wash canoes, and irrigate the green screen. This will total over 190,000 gallons of water per year. There will be no portable water use, except for lavatories, showers, and drinking fountains. While most of the surface landscape will not be irrigated, the vertical green screen will be.

Bronx River House won the 2007 New York City Public Design Commission Design Award.

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