Gathering Place Construction 'Going Vertical' With Williams Lodge

Thursday, August 18th 2016, 9:09 pm
By: Emory Bryan

At the Gathering Place, the first stop for many visitors will be a building called Williams Lodge.

Thursday, 16 months away from the first public visit, we got a preview.

The Gathering Place will be part traditional park, part destination. And to accommodate that, there will be many places to eat, sit down for a minute and enjoy the view - and the largest single spot for that is the lodge.

From a distance, the tunnels and pond are the most recognizable features at the Gathering Place; but within the last week, the structure of the Williams Lodge went vertical.

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The 13,000-square foot building will be the main entry to the park.

For Project Manager Jeff Stava, the transition from work underground to above ground is a key milestone.

“Stormwater, plumbing, running lines, getting all the basement work done for the boathouse and the lodge; now everything is starting to come up out of the ground,” he said.

Stava said what's taking shape in this set of forms is one of the most complicated structures in the park. It's going to be a three-story tall fireplace, with twisting columns of sandstone that mimic the look of a large tree.

The plans call for an ice cream shop on the lower level, with a covered terrace reaching out to a three-acre lake called Peggy's Pond, where visitors can take boat rides.

Stava said, “You can come down the pond, Peggy's Pond, dock, go up get ice cream, something to eat.”

He promises the view from the lodge will be as spectacular as the building.

The metal pieces will hold floor to ceiling glass panels, giving a view across the park and the pond, but not the traffic going by.

"You won't be able to see the river because of the berms that block the park from being able to see Riverside Drive,” Stava said. “But you'll be able to see out west, the sunsets, it's going to be beautiful."

Stava said the overall construction is on time, with plans for the park to open late next year - with a lot more vertical construction now about to get started.

The lodge will be surrounded by playgrounds, the pond, and on one side, an 18,000-square foot outdoor dining area underneath those tall trees on the site.