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SPP Journal: Small Project Awards | Issue number 58 | Spring 2013

Category 2 Winner:

Wendy Evans Joseph & Chris Cooper
Cooper Joseph Studio


Webb Chapel Park Pavilion
Mission, Texas

Category 2 Description: A small project construction, up to $1,500,000.

Project Description: We were asked by the Department of Parks and Recreation to create a picnic pavilion to replace a decaying 1960s shelter. Given Texan heat and humidity, climate control was a priority. The site plan creates a shaded area for both a playground, and a soccer field. From a cultural point of view, a highly challenging community meant eliminating hidden areas. All surfaces are highly durable, fireproof and maintenance free. It is a bold design with a playful demeanor. The concept is an efficient, profoundly straightforward one that finds a new vernacular under the southwestern sun. A reduced palette of board-formed concrete and plaster allows for the most effective play of shade and shadow. Iconic in effect, it attracts public use as a beacon of neighborhood gathering. The structure is a modern and abstract architectural form that transcends the regional narrative by unexpected means. There is an element of surprise and whimsy with the bright yellow, pyramidal shapes inside the rectangular concrete shell. But, the ceiling’s primary purpose is to act as a natural ventilation system, just as a traditional “palapa”, allowing hot air to rise. Convection breezes are increased as seating is embedded in the earth, keeping the concrete cooled.

Jury Comments: As a pavilion this structure accomplishes many functions. Yellow coffers are a delightful surprise for shade seekers providing visual warmth as a counterpoint to its exterior grey concrete. Cleverly integrated into the site the side berm and concrete overhead create a thermal cooling mass the way sustainable design traditionally did. This pavilion project is unlike anything we have seen before. A beautiful public work that will surely inspire those that experience it to embrace architecture in a new way. This is design without compromise, where functional elements are married to elegant and playful details to create a unique and inviting pavilion completely appropriate for its use and place. The use of concrete in this innovative way is compelling because of the heaviness executed with such lightness. The structure is surprising and engaging, largely because of its ability to operate at multiple scales of perception. The scale of the work leads me into the project; first I understand what appears to be a conventional form as an object in a field, then I understand its levitation, then upon approach I understand its texture from the formwork, and finally, when I'm in, the warm glow and softness of being 'in'. It also beautifully negotiates the topography, with a respectful edging at both the high and the low condition. A command performance!

Collaboration Acknowledgements: Architect of Record: Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture LLP Structural Engineer: Jaster - Quintanilla Engineering

Electrical Engineer: Gerard & Associates Consulting Engineers

Concrete Consultant: Reginald D Hough, FAIA

General Contractor: Phoenix I Restoration & Construction, Ltd

Photographer: Eduard Hueber / Archphoto Inc.


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