Queens, NY

Alley Pond Environmental Center is located at a haphazard urban boundary where the Cross Island Parkway and the Old Douglaston Pumping Station abut the tidal wetlands of Alley Creek. Currently 50,000 DOE students come to APEC each year for an immersive learning experience based on the upland and tidal wetland flora and fauna.

Based on needs defined by the NYC Parks Department and the Alley Pond Environmental Center staff, this new environmental center creates a new campus that expands APEC’s teaching environment both indoors and out. LSS worked with educators and staff to design a building that not only redefines this urban park but that also functions as a teaching tool for young students and park visitors of all ages.

The building will define the edge of the park, buffering highway noise while acting as a gateway. The sloping form will give APEC a much-needed street presence while draining the roof’s storm water to a prominent rain garden.

As part of the design process, LSS worked with Hester Street to create a lesson plan highlighting the relationship of the wetlands ecosystem to the building and it’s urban context. This work was not only integrated into the design of the building but will provide teaching materials for the staff and students during and after the construction process.

To further integrate APEC’s pedagogy, the building will integrate areas to house the center’s live animals, and expose mechanical and environmental systems. Classrooms are carried out-of-doors under an expansive sheltering roof and act as individual trailheads to the nature walks beyond.

The building utilizes sustainable strategies and is targeting a LEED Gold rating. This project was awarded the New York City Public Design Commission Award for Excellence in Design.

Project Team 

Marc Turkel

Morgan Hare

Shawn Watts

Lesli Stinger

Brian Ho

Veer Nanavatty

Jenna Miller

Structural Engineer

Robert Silman Associates

MEP Engineer

Kohler Ronan, LLC.

Civil Engineer

Sherwood Design Engineers

Geotech Engineer / Wetlands

Langan Engineering

Environmental Engineer

Atelier Ten

Landscape Architects



Horton Lees Brogden

AV, IT, Security, Acoustics

Cerami & Associates