Joining Forces

Located northwest of the CibolaHigh School campus, the new 7-acre aquatic center features a 13-lane competition swimming pool complete with a regulation 3-meter and two 1-meter diving platforms. The 3-meter diving board is a first for Yuma–no existing facilities could adequately support a platform of this height. The pool and diving platform portion of the center will primarily serve athletes from the high schools, and will house all district competitive swimming events. Plenty of shaded spectator seating areas and bleachers, as well as changing areas and a bathhouse, are vast improvements from the older facilities. In addition to hosting diving competitions, the pool is deep enough to accommodate water polo, synchronized swimming or even scuba classes. When school is not in session, the pool is available during “open swim” time, and is used extensively for community-based swim and aerobic classes.

The community–particularly its youngest members–also enjoys the center’s splash pad, curvy slide, aqua playground built into the pool and playful dumping buckets (elevated containers that shower swimmers) and geysers. A leisure pool with a zero-depth or “beach-like” entry is a popular spot for children and non-swimmers, providing a gradual decline rather than steps or a ladder-style entry. This type of shallow sloping ramp is also ADA-accessible.

Plentiful picnic spaces and snack areas are shaded by colorful canopies. A full-service concession stand serves poolside snacks, and a shaded grassy area provides relief from direct sun. Thirty YUHSD students designed the colorful mosaic tiles that surround the pools’ edges, and a welcoming wave pattern of additional tiles lines the entry to the water park.

A multi-purpose classroom provides space for lifeguard CPR training and for pre-swim and other physical-education classes. The space is available to community members and organizations for rent, offering an ideal location for birthday parties, meetings and other events.

Joint Effort

Construction on the $8.8-million project was completed in only 18 months. Similar to the community partnership, designers represented a union of sorts, with the recreation and educational design firm of TMP Architecture of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., partnering with a local Tucson-based firm, Breckenridge Group Inc. The firms had established a collaborative relationship while working on prior successful Arizona projects, including the new University of Arizona Intercollegiate Athletic Facilities, as well as projects for other local school districts.

John Castellana with TMP Architecture, project director for the new center, attended the grand opening ceremony, and was overwhelmed by the public turnout and positive comments. “It was so gratifying to see the finished product, to see the results of the hard work that everybody involved went through to make it happen,” Castellana says. “It was great to see the smiles on local kids’ faces as they discovered the new splash pad, or took a plunge down the water slide!”

Not surprisingly, the picturesque town is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. With a capacity for 700 people, the new Valley Aquatic Center is sure to draw people from outside the area, making Yuma a destination for southwest Arizona families and visitors.

Michelle McCulloch has been a member of TMP’s marketing team since 2005. Established in 1959, TMP Architecture is a full-service architectural/engineering firm focused in the planning and design of K-12, municipal and college/university projects. The firm has offices in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Portage, Mich., and Columbus, Ohio. Michelle can be reached at

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