This morning I borrowed a friend's car and drove around Queens, checking out a handful of buildings that have been recently completed or are under construction. First in this short "Queens Builds" series is Perkins+Will's New York City Police Academy in College Point.
College Point sits on an peninsula of sorts east of LaGuardia Airport and cut off from Flushing and other parts to the south and east by the Whitestone Expressway. The neighborhood's northern half is mainly residential, but to the south, toward the once-notorious Willets Point, it is primarily industrial. Until the Police Academy, College Point's most architecturally significant building was the New York Times Printing Plant by Polshek/Ennead. The 730,000-sf first phase of the New York City Police Academy – designed by Perkins+Will with Michael Fieldman Architects and completed last year – sits on a large, 35-acre triangular parcel at area's southern tip. [Map]
The building fronts 28th Street on the north and is made up of two main components: the Recruit Academic Building on the west and the Physical Training Building on the east (left and right, respectively, in the top photo). The two parts are linked by a glass bridge that traverses a storm water canal that cuts an "L" in front of the Academic Building and leads to, I believe, Flushing Creek to the south. The water feature was the biggest surprise upon seeing the building.
Visitors must traverse a bridge, just visible in the photo below, that leads from 28th Street to the main entrance of the Recruit Academic Building.
Although I did not attempt to venture inside the building, I like the porosity of the building adjacent to the entrance, seen in the photo below.
Although the Police Academy has carefully articulated facades, a good deal of glass, and the occasional opening, the huge project is basically a compound walled-off from the public that its occupants serve. The canal may be an environmental measure, helping the project gain LEED Gold Certification, but it can also be seen as a 21st century moat, creating a barrier between the police (in training) and anybody outside.