Idlewild Park Salt Marsh Environmental Science Learning Center

Client New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
Location New York City, NY
Status Completed in 2022

The Idlewild Park Learning Center serves as both an educational facility and a community center, informing visitors about the significance of the saltwater marshlands.

Designed for New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the Idlewild Park Salt Marsh Environmental Science Learning Center offers classroom and exhibit space in the Idlewild Park Saltwater Marsh in Queens, New York. The Center will serve to educate visitors about the saltwater marshlands which abut the JFK Airport and the Jamaica Bay. The neighborhood is underserved for park facilities with educational programs, and this building will help to address those needs.

By its location and form, the Idlewild Learning Center tells the story of water in our urban habitat, and the building acts like a porch to the wetland landscape beyond. Classrooms, an exhibit hall, and the entry space all frame the views around the site. The concept of “the porch” is manifested in the overall layout and structure of the building: program spaces are located under a singular roof, with an outdoor classroom set back under column supports.

The layered, permeable façade was based on the concept of filtration, and is meant to evoke the surrounding marshland habitat. Wetlands plants actually function as marsh filters and a natural shoreline reinforcement system. The concept of filtering, of graduated openings, is emulated in how the façade of the structure is created with a lattice of different densities; instead of filtering water, the lattice filters light and air. Above, the building’s roof angles inward and channels runoff into a rain garden, which in turns flows into a storm surge channel recently created to mitigate flooding.

00 817 11 000
00 817 11 002
00 817 12 000e


2024 Honor Award - SARA New York Design Award First Place, Institutional, Cultural, and Government - AIA Queens 2015 Excellence in Design Award - Public Design Commission of the City of New York


Design Architect Architect of Record Interior Designer

Project Team

Blake Middleton, Antonio Donofrio, Alison Popper, Charles Draper, Kyle Higgins, Ping Hsieh

Design Partner(s)

Landscape Architect - MNLA