Park & Pool

A Playful Makeover
Kandle Park & Pool in Tacoma, Wash.

By Deborah L. Vence

Not one inch of Kandle Park & Pool went untouched during its transformation this past year. The 10-acre park, located in Tacoma, Wash., was once just a field with an old playground. Now, it boasts an aquatic facility, athletic field, walking paths and much more.

"Many neighbors have expressed enthusiasm for having such a vibrant, energetic park back in their community," said Laura Lenss, AIA, SHKS Architects, the Seattle-based architectural firm that headed up the design team for the park project.

Kandle Park officially opened in spring 2012. The pool opened on June 24.

"Given our short summers in the Pacific Northwest, it operated through Labor Day," Lenss said.

Even with temperatures in the low 50s, more than 200 swimmers showed up to be a part of the grand opening in June of Tacoma's first wave pool, which features a gradual beach-like, zero-depth entry, making it easier for people of all ages and abilities to get into the pool. Also, patrons can enjoy a separate shallow tot pool and sprayground.

The aquatic facility also boasts a bubble pool and 25-yard lap lanes, a splash pool (that also functions as a sprayground during off-season), a dumping bucket, raining buckets, water cannons, geysers, outdoor sound system, family restrooms, and rentable covered areas on the pool deck.

"Kandle Pool is the first wave pool in Pierce County (and one of few in the state of Washington). The wave pool is 10,000 square feet (water surface area) with 120 linear feet of 'beach' area," Lenss said, adding that the new aquatic facility joins several other aquatic facilities in Metro Parks Tacoma, including Stewart Heights Pool, Eastside Pool, Norpoint Pool, and wading pools and spraygrounds throughout the community parks.

But, the wave pool is just one of many upgrades to the park.

Kandle Park—originally designed by Sitts & Hill Engineers and completed in July 1961—was renovated into an aquatics facility with support structures, athletic field, skate dots, walking paths, landscaping, community garden, accessible playground and an expanded parking lot with bus parking.

"The facility was designed with sustainability, durability and ease of maintenance in mind," Lenss said. "The pool and park structures are constructed out of structural insulated panels to reduce heating and cooling loads. Skylights in the restrooms minimize lighting demands during operating hours. Finishes include water-resistant walls and toilet partitions made from 100 percent recycled material. Sustainable site features include permeable pavers, large rain gardens and native vegetation."

Lenss noted that that the skate dots, designed for avid skateboarders, are "what individual skate features are called. We have three 'dots,' along with other skateable elements scattered throughout the park. The skate elements include: a skate bowl, curved embankment, and a beginner skate dot (intended for small kids learning to skate), and skateable benches and walls," she said.

In addition, the park—which is adjacent to Downing Elementary and a Boys and Girls Club—includes a community garden, basketball courts, public restrooms and walking paths. The fully accessible playground provides equal play opportunities for all children, regardless of age or ability.

"We actually had a design charrette with the kids at the Club during schematic design," Lenss said.

And, so far, since the opening of the park and pool, "Reception has been overwhelmingly good. Earnings and attendance exceeded Metro Parks' expectations," Lenss said. "On warmer days, the pool facility was functioning at full capacity with people waiting in line to get in."

The park project was partially funded by the Parks Improvement Bond Measure approved by the citizens of Tacoma in November 2005, and a Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office Land, Water and Conservation Fund Grant, Lenss said.

The full project team comprises the following:

  • Architects: SHKS Architects, Seattle
  • Landscape Architect: Site Workshop, Seattle
  • Pool Designer: Water Technology, Inc., Beaver Dam, Wis.
  • Structural Engineer: Swenson Say Fagét Engineers, Tacoma, Wash.
  • Mechanical Engineer: Greenbusch Group, Seattle.
  • Electrical Engineer: Travis Fitzmaurice & Associates, Seattle
  • Civil Engineer: KPFF, Tacoma, Wash.
  • Geotechnical: GeoEngineers, Tacoma, Wash.
  • Contractor: Wyser Construction, Snohomish, Wash.

Metro Parks Tacoma:

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