Cherry Blossom Welcome Center at Branch Brook Park
Branch Brook Park is the jewel of the Essex County Parks system. A sprawling 360-acre parcel located in the North Ward of the City of Newark, Branch Brook Park is the largest public park in the city of Newark and is reputed as being the nation's first county park. The famed Olmsted Brothers were commissioned to design the park with a naturalistic look and feel, with acres of meadows and forests, in a manner similar to their father's earlier designs of Central Park and Prospect Park in NYC. The park is noted for the largest collection of Japanese cherry blossom trees in the United States, having over 5,000 in more than eighteen different varieties. Their annual Cherry Blossom Festival attracts throngs of visitors who come to see the trees in full bloom, many of whom enter and exit the park through the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center.
Despite the building being renovated less that 15 years ago, the County of Essex sought to demolish the existing welcome center and construct a new building that would provide a larger and more modern facility to enhance the outdoor experience for visitors.
The new building will be approximately 12,000 square feet and maintain the same general configuration of the existing building (one floor, basement, mezzanine area, etc.) Keeping in mind the natural aesthetics of the surrounding park area, the design had to maintain an image that was compatible with, and complemented, the natural area, as well as adjacent structures and park facilities. Therefore, it was important that significant attention be paid to scale, appearance, and connection to adjacent buildings, playgrounds, athletic areas, amenities, and the general surroundings. Key elements that will be included in the new building include a large, open atrium and exhibit hall, interior and exterior restrooms, and a concession window with a covered porch. Site improvements include expanded parking, new ornamentally landscaped entry plaza and walkways, signage, benches, and water fountains around the building.
2023 - Projection