Perfect Harmony

When considering various usage scenarios, it is important to visualize the user’s experience from arrival to departure.  Photos Courtesy Of Laszlo Regos Photography

When considering various usage scenarios, it is important to visualize the user’s experience from arrival to departure.

Photos Courtesy Of Laszlo Regos Photography

All too often, facilities are labeled “multi-use” but fall short of delivering that promise. The fault can often lie in planning deficiencies caused by both overly optimistic notions of cooperation, or by cutting corners on amenities.

Needs And Goals

Having a clear knowledge of the individual needs and goals of all stakeholders is essential. There are definitely areas of a building that can be shared, but it is vital that the core areas of use for individual interests remain separate by providing dedicated amenities for each group.

An example of where this arrangement works well is the aquatic center at AlleganHigh School in Allegan, Mich. Allegan is a small community—around 5,000 residents—with a big spirit, but limited financial resources. Before this addition, there were no area indoor pools and, therefore, no year-round swimming opportunities, no swim teams, and no recreational aquatic activities during winter months. Years before the construction of the high school, volunteers had organized a committee to research the development of a community center featuring a major aquatic element. Plans were developed, and cost estimates loomed large. The project ultimately lost momentum due to the inability to fund the community’s dream. Later, when Allegan Public Schools decided to explore improvements to the high school, a community natatorium was suggested as a possibility, if the municipality and school district combined forces to create a joint-use complex.

Design Solutions

Community forums determined a list of desired program amenities. The stage was set and community expectations were high. The solution was to design two separate natatoriums side-by-side and separated by a two-story glass wall. One pool is a 25-yard, eight-lane pool with spectator seating for 300 people. The other pool is a leisure pool featuring shallow water with a zero-depth entry, a kiddy slide, a lazy river, bubblers, and plenty of natural light. Two separate filtration systems were provided to allow for warmer water temperatures in the leisure pool and cooler water in the competition pool. One boiler was designed to heat both pools with water passing through a common heat exchanger and then piped separately to each body of water.

Avoiding Interference

To facilitate the simultaneous use of both pools, the project required the addition of separate community lockers, consisting of men’s, women’s, and a family locker room. The community locker rooms are accessed through a dedicated entrance from the parking lot. This allows high-school pool activities—such as training, physical education, and competition—to take place with no interference or interruption from community users, and vice versa.

When considering various usage scenarios, it is important to visualize the user’s experience from arrival to departure. For example, swimmers have locker rooms for toilet use, changing, and showering. However, spectators and non-swimming visitors need a toilet facility within their use zone of the building. They should not be forced to enter into other use zones, such as the academic areas (in this case, the high school), allowing potential security breaches and possible interference with other programs.

It is also important to consider how the senior population is welcomed to the facility by recognizing their unique needs. Parking

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Finding Purpose
  2. Winning Over Residents
  3. Pooling Sailboat Skills
  4. Foresight
  5. Aquatic Playgrounds
  • Columns
  • Departments