Facility Profile - November 2006
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On-Campus Resort

Gregory Gym Aquatic Center at the University of Texas, Austin

By Daniela Bloch

ollege students across the country yearn for spring break's lazy afternoons on the beach, planning months in advance to get as far away from home and school as possible. Unless, of course, they go to the University of Texas at Austin. Students there don't want to leave at all.

"The week preceding spring break," explained Jack Patton, principal for RDG Planning & Design, "staff members overheard students saying, 'Why go to south Texas for spring break when we can just stay here?' It's a great way to keep students involved and on campus."

This great way to keep students on campus is the university's new Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex, a 60,000-square-foot addition that includes two indoor pools, three outdoor pools, an outdoor spa, outdoor verandas, a café and standard amenities such as lockers and restrooms.

"The three distinct outdoor pools total about 17,000 square feet, and each serves a different function," Patton said. "The largest is a 12-lane-by-25-yard lap pool. The second, at about 6,000 square feet, is organic-shaped with underwater seats. The third is an event pool positioned so it can be curtained off for special events, receptions and water recreation like water basketball and volleyball. And when it's curtained off, it does not interfere with the other pool activities."

The outdoor pools enjoy 82- to 85-degree heating. The heated spa seats about 20 people and is located at the edge of the lap pool. According to Patton, it offers a wonderful view of the complex.

Other special features of the 33,000-square-foot deck and additions include a reception garden and outdoor café with wireless Internet.

"The reception garden, with a gravel-laden patio, serves reception group activities," Patton said. "There are also outdoor verandas with wood-trellis overhead structures. Each veranda supports outdoor lounging or student areas for studying and is large enough to hold bands."

There is also an outdoor café fitted underneath a large, wooden shade structure with an assorted juice bar, where students can enjoy healthy snacks, sandwiches and fruit smoothies.

Although most of its features are completely new, the two indoor pools remind students of the original Gregory Gymnasium, built in 1930 with the support of former student Thomas Watt Gregory. The gymnasium served the major athletic purposes on campus until 1995, when it underwent a two-year renovation that resulted in several new additions, including a Sports Café, Outdoor Adventure Center and Wellness Center. The Aquatic Complex was the icing on the cake for the Gregory Gym.

"This facility is different from others of its kind," Patton said. "The high level of quality, the design concept of 2 square feet of deck area for every square foot of water, its function as a recreational venue even if no one is in the water and its patio-like integration into the surrounding environment make it different."