- Project Name
- Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning
- The New York Junior Tennis & Learning and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 181,250 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Project Status
Through a public-private partnership between the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL), a new flagship tennis and education center was conceived as a year-round public amenity for Crotona Park, inside 127-acres of natural parkland in the South Bronx. The project expands the legacy of the twenty original public tennis courts and also transforms the site into a new state-of-the-art venue, comprised of a 12,750 SF two-story clubhouse and educational facility, with two world-class stadium exhibition courts; 20 outdoor hard courts, with 10 upgraded to USTA regulation and seasonal coverage under air structures; bleacher seating for 960; and a raised spectator viewing bridge in-between the courts.
As a hybrid facility, the two-story clubhouse includes a pro shop, lounge and expansive locker rooms found in a typical high-end tennis club, above classrooms, meeting spaces and garden areas associated with a community center. The building and stadium courts are partially buried as a strategy to minimize the impact of a large structure in the park, to take advantage of natural geothermal heating and cooling of below ground surfaces, and to create a special precinct for both "tennis and learning." Bleacher seats are not visible from outside the precinct, preserving the 127-acre recreational setting of natural parkland in New York City’s public Crotona Park. To address issues of durability and maintenance of standard tournament asphalt courts, the courts now sunken below-grade were constructed with post-tensioned concrete exceeding USTA construction standards. Courtside, the lower level of the clubhouse opens directly on to the exhibition courts, and parkside, the building appears as a low single story building.
Conceptually, the venue is designed as a series of platforms—both for viewing tennis, from beginner to professional level, and metaphorically a platform to encourage afterschool learning—a project to create the opportunity for underserved kids to experience success on the tennis court as well as in life.
As a design strategy, the building was conceived as a series of roofs providing cover for simple, multiple-use interior spaces—a tectonic of shifting planes defines the roof, floors, and viewing platforms, anchored by solid volumes of the “locker box” and elevator cores. Located at the corner of the park site, the two-story clubhouse breaks from the orthogonal grid defined by the tennis courts.
The sequence from the park approach to the hubbub of clubhouse activity is carefully sheltered from the park approach with an understated single-story pavilion. Once inside the precinct, all attention is directed courtside. A raised bridge platform provides direct viewing to five conventional courts and additional viewing to the exhibition and stadium courts. Unobstructed elevated views of the park environment from this area provide an additional amenity by this program piece.
Proving the efficacy of public/private cooperation, the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning has expanded the capability of New York City to host international competition tennis with a venue recognized by the International Tennis Federation as the first tennis facility in the USA to achieve a Two Star Outstanding Tennis Facility status. As the flagship for New York Junior Tennis & Learning, the tennis complex provides a competitive training venue for high-performance juniors as the site of the annual Mayor’s Cup, the largest scholastic tennis event in the US. Since 2017, the Cary Leeds Center has hosted USTA qualifying professional tournaments leading up to the US Open including the NYJTL Bronx Open, and has now joined Billie Jean King’s World Team Tennis franchise as the site of the New York Empire home matches.