Problem Solver - August 2007
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Enclosing Aquatic Venues

We've got a great aquatic facility that attracts a lot of visitors during the summer months, but we'd like to extend our season.

Fortunately, you can enclose your facility and still keep that outdoor feel. Pool enclosures with operable roofs and doors that can create fresh air help you keep your facility operating year-round while providing an outdoor feel for your patrons.

The most important factors to consider when designing and building an enclosure for an aquatic environment are the challenges created by that environment itself. These include air quality and the effects of the humid pool environment on the structure. An aluminum-framed enclosure can stand up to the challenges of the aquatic environment. You can find aluminum structures capable of freespanning more than 140 feet—or even more if you use intermediate columns—with retractable roof panels up to 35 feet long. A polycarbonate or insulated glass roof and insulated glass sides will let the sun shine in, while you vent the pool area via the retractable roof panels.

It's very important to design the building to maintain a manageable air space. You should design L/180 deflection, which ensures a tighter building. This helps guarantee the integrity of the building envelope. Even more important is thermally broken construction, which helps control condensation and cold spots, contributing to greater energy efficiency and air quality for your facility.

Cost-effective thermally broken aluminum structures can offer a beautiful solution that will attract more people to your aquatic center. A typical structure might be a freestanding double slope or a lean-to enclosure. You also could simply use a skylight structure supported by conventional construction for the walls. Some manufacturers will help you with custom designs. In one case, a custom-designed enclosure was provided so the glass roof can open 75 percent of its area, with about half of the sidewalls opening 100 percent, maximizing the outdoor feel of the club. Your patrons will feel like they're swimming outside.