Supplement Feature - February 2011
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Catching the Wave

Staying Current With the Latest Aquatic Designs

By Kelli Anderson

No Pool Left Behind

If there's one thing no one can afford these days, it's an idle pool. Designers recognize that for the municipal facility, there will always be a need for the lap pool, but creating them to be more multifunctional as well as building additional pools with different depths and temperatures, allows for a greater variety of programming and appeals to a greater diversity of patrons. Bottom line? More activity, more revenue.

For Cascade Falls, the aquatic center in Ankeny, Iowa, many areas of their facility's waterpark space are used for swim lessons and fitness classes. Offered in the morning hours until the waterpark opens to the general public at noon, the facility ensures that its aquatic spaces are never idle.

"We constructed it to make sure we had flexible enough spaces with different depths," said Todd Redenius, director of parks and recreation for the city. "For example, the lazy river and the pool where slides dump into are used for mini lap. We have water initiation classes in our zero depth for parent/child classes, and we do a lot of programming like a water fitness class called lazy river walking where people walk against the current. Our space is large enough and flexible enough that it really helps in terms of revenue."

Designers agree that this kind of flexibility, of necessity, is gaining ground.

"What we're seeing now is a multipurpose functioning pool where there's a combination of everything," said Randy Mendioroz, president and principal in charge with Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, Calif. "Lap swim, current channels—almost like a mini waterpark."

While Mendioroz acknowledges that separate pools are ideally suited to match the right temperatures to the right activity, he admits that for many on tight budgets or with small footprints, multifunctional is the way to go.

Having multiple-functioning pools will also make the most sense if they can be used year-round. Traditionally, many areas open their recreational pools from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But more facilities are looking to bring the outdoor experience inside for year-round revenue.

Given that indoor pools are so much more expensive, however, economical options like using roof panels and pre-engineered buildings are becoming more popular, shaving millions of dollars off the cost of a traditional building. According to Mendioroz, a traditional indoor pool, for example, might run $300 to $400 per square foot whereas a pre-engineered structure will cost around $200 per square foot.

"We're seeing nice hybrid solutions," Mendioroz said. "The city of Lompoc, Calif., had a huge savings of over $2 million by going with a non-traditional building structure as part of their multi-pool project."

While Mendiorez conceded that using paneled roofs and pre-engineered buildings is not new technology, the incentive to build more economically is certainly stronger than ever.

"We're a year-round provider and aquatics was very important—we wanted to build for the next 60 years, something that's attractive and revenue generating," said Dan McCaffrey, director of parks and recreation and urban forestry in Lompoc about his facility's retractable panels. "We were trying to produce an outside feel that would still protect people when the weather wasn't great. And when the weather is beautiful, we can retract the roof and have the best of both worlds. The glass enclosure was a premier process and innovative."