Award Winner - May/June 2004
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Beachwood Family Aquatic Center
Beachwood, Ohio


S u b m i t t e d    b y:

schmidt Copeland parker stevens, inc. in cleveland, ohio

110,000 gross square feet

Project cost:
$5.2 million

Quick tour:

  • Nearly 6,000-square-foot bathhouse and guard building
  • 1,800-square-foot filtration and equipment building
  • Dining pavilion
  • Four relocated shade pavilions
  • Zero-depth entry
  • In-water play features
  • Five different water slides, totaling 483 linear feet
  • Current channel
  • Vortex/whirlpool
  • Two splash play areas
  • Eight 25-meter lap lanes
  • One- and three-meter diving boards
  • In-water bubble benches
  • Special infant and tot pool
  • Oversized shade umbrellas
  • New entry and arrival drives
  • New playground structure added just outside of the center entrance
  • Facility-wide technology system with electric and magnetic locks, visual security and audio systems
  • Computer-based chemical controllers for the pools and an extensive phone and data system

The city of Beachwood, Ohio, was on the verge of an outdoor pool emergency. "Our 1968 50-meter pool had to be renovated or replaced," says Pete Conces, recreation supervisor. "It was very typical of pools that were built in the '60s. We kept it very sharp on the outside, but it began to deteriorate greatly on the inside."

Sure enough, a large hole was discovered under the deck. Repairing it couldn't be guaranteed to last another year; it was a time for a new pool—and fast. The next pool season was only 10 months away, and the aging pool had to go.

"It was an old design style that wasn't very attractive for families," says Richard T. Parker, principal with Schmidt Copeland Parker Stevens, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio. "They had planned to replace it in a few years, but suddenly the plan accelerated." Did it ever.

"If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right," Conces says. "We're a very blessed community with money in the bank, so we didn't have to float a tax bill." With funding in place, the city council quickly green-lit the project.

"That wish list went out, and they said 'Let's do it and do it right,'" Conces says. "In most political situations, it would have taken a year and a half to build the pool. It would've been tossed and turned all over the place, but instead we were fast-tracked."

Demolition began the day after the old pool closed for the season. For the designers, that meant life in the fast lane, so to speak.

"It took two to three months to do a complete design and construction document, which we think is pretty phenomenal for a $5 million project," Parker says. Somehow it all came together, even in a precedent-setting way, despite the time crunch. "It's definitely the most amenity-filled city outdoor aquatic center in northern Ohio, so they've raised the bar in this part of the state," he says.

Encompassing more than 514,00 gallons of water, the Beachwood Family Aquatic Center involves integrating specific activities, including lap swimming, diving, social interaction and play. In addition to all the amenities, planners wanted the place to have a high-end, luxurious, full-service feel. In the spirit of this, staff members even bring ice water around to the patrons.

"Our theming aspect was to make it feel like a private country club," Conces adds, despite that fact that it's a public pool. "We love that catering attitude."

Several other factors came into play with the design. First, the new facility needed to fit in with the neighboring residences and government center.

"We wanted to give it more of a human scale for the architecture," Parker says. "We also wanted to create a 'Wow' element to it."

Likewise, the designers wanted the architecture to reflect the fact that it is a fun, summertime facility.

"It's a limited seasonal-use building, so we tried to give them a little more interest with materials and colors to make it playful and not dated," Parker says. Part of that playful feeling comes from integrating extensive landscaping and 20-foot-diameter shade umbrellas within the deck space.

"A lot of times landscaping is kept to the perimeter," Parker says. "We purposely chose plants that would survive treated water."

All of this has added up to an aquatic center that has made a big splash with patrons.

"We had 2,000 people clamoring to get in on opening day," Conces says. Although Beachwood is a relatively small town of 12,000, about 3,000 residents are members, which is downright impressive.

"Twenty-five percent of our population belongs to the pool," he says. "The pool exceeded people's expectations. People do a drive-by and say how gorgeous it is, but when you walk through the facility it becomes a statement of awe."

J u d g e s '   N o t e s

"The compactness of the facility gives it the appearance of having great energy."

erik kocher

"The large expanse of the pool provides areas for swimming and sunbathing."

kenneth ward

"I like the fanciful use of wood combined with CMU. There are fanciful touches with the pergola on columns and wood archway. Masonry work is very well done. Also the curved elements at the roofline are very well done. Looks like this was a lower budget project, but they made the most of it with the alternating colored bands of CMU on the exteriors. Wood accents used in creative and unique ways."

Christell Leonard

A s s o c i a t e d    F i r m s

Aquatics designer

Counsilman/Hunsaker and Associates, Inc.

Civil engineer

Neff & Associates

Mechanical and electrical engineers

Bacik Karpinski Associates, Inc.

Structural engineer

Barber & Hoffman, Inc.

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