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SILVER LAKE : Park Center Design Pleases Residents

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Architect Christian Dufay didn’t think it would get this far. He told himself his design for a new Silver Lake Recreation Center would just be an idea for the hard-to-please residents to consider.

But a year later, Dufay’s rendering of a small, Spanish-style, red-tile-roof building with exposed wood beams seems to be the design that has soothed a five-year community controversy. Dufay’s vision is nothing like the 10,000-square-foot brick building with few windows the city proposed to replace the existing, aging recreation center in 1991.

“They [residents] wanted something kind of intimate and comfortable and relaxing,” said Dufay, a Silver Lake resident who donated his time. “I think they wanted something that wasn’t going to feel like a big, institutional structure in the park.”

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Dufay’s plan is scheduled for a public unveiling at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Friendship Hall Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive. The meeting will be hosted by Steven Soboroff, president of the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission, and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg.

The unveiling comes after nearly a year of meetings by a community design review committee, which took charge of the project after city officials conceded that their original plan might not be suited to the small park. After the community rejected the city’s plan, residents answered in a community survey that any new recreation center must reflect the park’s heavy use by parents with young children and remain under 5,000 square feet.

It was also important that the new building feature a small gym, a kitchen, a meeting room, a director’s office that looked out on the playground, and bathrooms visible from the playground. Dufay’s building plan incorporates all of the community’s requests.

Once it was clear exactly what most residents wanted for the park at Van Pelt Place and West Silverlake Boulevard, the committee sought architects from the community to submit designs.

Since then, a city landscape architect has designed the park’s outdoor improvements, which include a renovated basketball court, a new sprinkler system, two new children’s play areas and a new picnic area.

Lisa Sarno, a representative of Goldberg, said she believes that the new plans will win community approval.

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“If it looks like everybody is happy, or at least satisfied, then we can take it to the next step,” Sarno said.

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