Located on the banks of the Ohio River in southwest Louisville, Ky., Riverview Park has been a local destination for decades. But the success of the revitalization of other city parks prompted the development of a master plan to recast the 70-acre site as a full-service recreational venue. The first phase of the project called for a structure to house restrooms, drinking fountains, and mechanical rooms for parkwide utilities. The client’s functional criteria were simple—durability, minimum upkeep, and the ability to withstand yearly flooding. The challenge for local firm de Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop was to create a signature identity for the 505-square-foot building, specific to the historic character of the area. The jury was impressed with the playfulness of the architectural references to the regional tobacco barns and river barges, which are often visible from the park. It’s “elegant,” juror Joe Valerio said. “It’s surprising, and I think great architecture always surprises you.”
A simple materials palette of Cor-Ten steel (in corrugated panel and louver applications), galvanized metal-plank grating, and poured-in-place concrete provides a durable kit-of-parts that is easily cleaned through power-washing (graffiti can simply be sanded off the Cor-Ten with steel wool and the rusted patina naturally returns). A raised-wall detail at the building base facilitates the hosing down of all interior spaces. Perforated wall surfaces provide visual and acoustical porosity in certain building areas for public safety and natural ventilation. “Typically you go into these spaces and they’re dead,” juror Trey Trahan said. “I like that you would get air moving through.”
The vertical integration of modular metal-plank grating (typically used for industrial stair treads) facilitates the replacement of wall panels as needed, and the restrooms are outfitted with stainless steel prison-grade fixtures. Daylight filters into all interior spaces and eliminates the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours. At night, gel-sleeved fluorescent strip lights transform the building into a colorful “park lantern” to illuminate surrounding paths.