The Courthouse Fitness & Racquet Club in Jackson, Miss.
By Emily Tipping
Named one of America's most livable mid-sized cities, the metro area of Jackson, Miss., is home to nearly half a million residents. Despite its southern clime, the city's weather does get cool in winter months, with average highs in the 50s and 60s. For that reason, The Courthouse Inc., a fitness and racquet club with four locations in the metro area, needed to enclose its swimming pool at its Lakeland location so members could swim year-round.
Initially built in 1978, the facility featured a bubble enclosure from 1979 until fairly recently. When it came time to replace the third bubble, President and Part-Owner of The Courthouse Johnny Black said it was time to consider something different.
"We were at the end of the life on our third bubble and determined that it really wasn't what we wanted from a niceness standpoint," he explained. "We wanted something more spacious, something that looked nicer, that had windows."
They ended up choosing to install a fabric structure—the first of its kind in the Jackson area. The community was pleased, and even the mayor of the town got involved, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new aquatic facility.
Tom Williams, treasurer of Courthouse Inc., called their new pool facility "the best in the state."
Since both time and money were of the essence for the Courthouse's leadership, Universal Fabric Structures suggested erecting a 121-foot by 196-foot polygon fabric structure over the existing pool. The structure features an HVAC system that allows the facility to be heated during cool winter months, and nine tempered glass retractable garage doors can be opened during spring and summer months to let in the fresh air.
Above the eave joint of the structure, the fabric is translucent, so swimmers can enjoy the warmth and brightness of sunlight no matter what time of year it is. On overcast days and during nighttime aquatics programs, 28 400-watt lights brighten things up.
"It's so much more appealing from the street, and it's more appealing on the inside," Black said. "It has ventilation and other things, so the air stays nice and healthy in there. And we have about 15 to 20 roll-up glass doors around the sides that in the summertime we roll up. In the winter, there's sunlight. It's been one of the best things we've done."
One of the great benefits of the fabric structure was the speed with which it was erected. Rather than investing significant capital and valuable time into having an architect design a new facility and a contractor build it, members of the Courthouse waited less than three weeks for a crew of five to erect the entire structure. The facility is clean, bright and offers the feeling of being outdoors, while protecting patrons from inclement weather.
If the need arises, the Courthouse can expand the facility by moving the end and adding more bays. They also can add additional doorways and other openings if needed.
Courthouse members can now take advantage of top-quality aquatics programming year-round. Because of its ability to remain open in cool winter weather, the Lakeland location can offer pool parties even for children whose birthdays fall in winter months.
In addition to pool parties, the Lakeland pool facility also hosts American Red Cross Lifesaving classes taught by certified instructors for ages 15 and up, as well as year-round swim lessons available for ages 3 and up, with small class sizes for children who are just getting started. Swim teams at the facility also are able to compete year-round, and a U.S. Masters Swimming Club brings regional swimmers together to swim for exercise and competition. Scuba-diving classes are also held year-round.
The Courthouse is currently considering enclosing another of its pools as well as six outdoor tennis courts with similar fabric structures.