Gillson Beach House redesign approved

WILMETTE — The Wilmette Park District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new design for the Gillson Park beach house and parking lot at a February 12 meeting.

The architects of Woodhouse Tinucci were responsive to feedback from residents that the beach house should meet the needs of the community, without detracting from the lake view in any way.

“We approached this project knowing that beaches are much more exciting than buildings,” Andy Tinucci told the board.

With this in mind, the beach house design is a series of low buildings connected by a shaded roof, made of durable materials in a natural color palette, such as weathered wood or aggregate concrete.

“The building blends into the landscape, becoming invisible in a landscape that never wanted a building,” Tinucci said.

Although the beach house is designed to blend in with the landscape, it still provides the amenities residents have requested in surveys and reduces the total concrete area from 19,600 square feet to 10,800 square feet. The north pavilion contains washrooms, which include additional toilets in the women’s and men’s bathrooms, as well as showers in the family bathroom. The central pavilion includes the ticket office and administrative offices, while the southernmost pavilion houses a concession area with a full kitchen.

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Views were central to the architects’ design, even as they redesigned the entrance and parking lot. “When you first descend this hill…you are struck by the beauty of the natural resource,” Tinucci said. Some existing trees around beach entrances will be removed to widen views.

The entrance driveway was widened to include two arrival lanes, while the gatehouse was set back to accommodate traffic. In the new design, season pass holders can enter through a separate route from those who purchase a daily pass.

Likewise, the new design aims to separate cyclists and pedestrians from traffic, with a widened path in the center of the park that leads to the beach house. Bike racks are scattered throughout the design, with bike parking at the picnic area, sailing beach, along the main path, and the north and south ends of the beach house. With a beach house located below the line of sight of the horizon, pedestrians and cyclists will have unobstructed views of the beach and the lake.

While the architects and board have continued to wrestle with the exact number of existing parking spaces in the beach car park, the new design aims to maintain the number of parking spaces, while solving the problems of parking. flooding and maintaining the footprint of the land. Roni Crystal was the only resident to speak at the meeting, fearing that the new design miscalculated the number of existing parking spaces, resulting in fewer parking spaces.

The redesign includes the planting of strategically placed islets throughout the grounds, where water will flow and then flow out during heavier rains. Tinucci acknowledges that this design “comes at the expense of parking spaces”, an issue Tinucci said the company would reconsider to optimize the number of parking spaces, while addressing stormwater management. .

Overall, the Stewards were happy with the redesign, acknowledging that some changes may need to be made to the number of parking spaces in the lot. But Shelley Shelly also urged other members of council not to dwell on the exact number of parking spaces that exist. “Let’s move on, we’ll get as much (space) as we can and keep it safe,” Shelly said.

The projected cost of the beach house and parking lot overhaul is $9.35 million, about what the Park District projected in its financial statements. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin after the 2018 summer swimming season and will be completed in time for the 2019 bathing season.

To see Tinucci’s presentation, with many images, visit