To restore McCarren Parkhouse, KTISMA Studio stitches old and new life together

Grub for Good

Built in 1911, the McCarren Parkhouse in McCarren Park, the largest park in north Brooklyn, was originally a locker room serving an adjacent pool. Now, an expansion designed by local firm KTISMA Studio has transformed the building into a stylish, highly functional new public amenity. “The original brief from NYC Parks was to transform the building into a food and beverage concession, as well as space for the park’s operations teams,” explained KTISMA principal Jonathan Chesley. Besides new concession spaces, including a pair of bars fabricated from locally sourced oak, the redesign also added two glazed wings with operable windows that open onto a generous patio space, helping infuse transparency into the building and reconnect it to the park via flexible gathering areas.

The Parkhouse in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park was built in 1911, a history that was preserved during its revitalization (Nicholas Venezia)

New insertions include operable windows to invite the park inside (Nicholas Venezia)

Old and new are elegantly stitched together with original brick arches in the historic structure, restored and enlarged. New insertions take a distinct material palette of wood, glass, and metal. “We wanted a clarity in the difference of new and old, while making an elegant collage of the materials in how they relate to one another,” said Chesley.

The design includes a new bar counter, made from local oak (Nicholas Venezia)

A vestige of the building’s past life as a locker room can be found on the floors and arched windows (Nicholas Venezia)

Exposed brick collides and coheres with the new materials the designer’s employed: glass, metal, and wood (Nicholas Venezia)

Ultimately, the Parkhouse demonstrates how aging urban infrastructure can be brought back to life via subtle design moves. As Chesley concluded, “This speaks to a new model of restaurant design for the public good.”