Category Archives: Construction

Birmingham CrossPlex To Host NCAA Division II Swimming Championships

The NCAA has announced that they will be hosting the Men’s & Women’s NCAA Division II Championships at the Brimingham CrossPlex.  The Birmingham CrossPlex is a world-class facility designed for three primary sports: indoor track and field, volleyball, and competitive swimming and diving. Located just two miles from theBirmingham-SouthernCollegecampus, the Birmingham CrossPlex is proud to begin hosting events that will attract athletes, coaches, and spectators from all over the world.

The team of Counsilman-Hunsaker and Davis Architects designed the state-of-the-art natatorium with the ability to hold 1100 spectators in the stands and 500 athletes/coaches on the deck. The facility features a 50-meter competition pool with bulkhead, which not only accommodates multiple racing and training configurations, but also features a flow-through design which minimizes waves rebounding on turns. The extra deep concrete/tile gutter system creates a calmer pool, thus reducing the amount of turbulence swimmers must face.

12,600 sq. ft. Competition Pool

  • Ten 50-meter lanes
  • Twenty 25-yard lanes
  • Depth ranges from 7 ft. to 13 ft.
  • Fiberglass movable bulkhead to accommodate multiple racing and training configurations
  • Two 1-meter and two 3-meter springboards
  • Generous decks all around the pool
  • Regenerative media water filtration
  • Ultraviolet water treatment system
  • Extra-deep concrete/tile gutter system
  • Water polo
All Stories

Relative to the structural design of swimming pools, which codes and standards apply?

All fifty states adopt the International Building Code (IBC) as their model code. IBC is published by the International Codes Council. Most states also have a “state specific” code, as well as some cities. Within IBC, Reference Standards are used. These Reference Standards are material-specific or use-specific, typically written by industry organizations. So, the code methodology for swimming pools can be summarized as follows: 

1.     Model Code (IBC)

     a.     State Code

          i.    City Code

     b.    Reference Standards

          i.    Loading: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 7) 

         ii.    Concrete: American Concrete Institute

1.     ACI 318: Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete

2.     ACI 350: Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures

3.     ACI 350.1: Tightness Testing of Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures

4.     ACI 350.3: Seismic Design of Liquid-Containing Concrete Structures

5.     ACI 350.4: Design Considerations for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures 

The International Building Code (IBC), all editions, includes swimming pools within the definitions chapter and in Section 3109 of the “Special Construction” chapter. A swimming pool is defined in IBC as “Any structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or wading that contains water over 24 inches in depth.” Section 3109 deals solely with enclosures and safety. 

Because IBC references Swimming Pools, all pools must be designed to comply with IBC. Therefore, all pools must comply with ACI 318. ACI 318 is primarily a “life-safety” code with minimum durability and serviceability requirements. This code is used to design pool shell thicknesses and reinforcing. ACI 318 states “For special structures, such as …tanks…, provisions of this code shall govern where applicable.” The commentary of this section refers to ACI 350 for “…Special emphasis is placed on structural design that minimizes the possibility of cracking…” While not specifically required in the design of pools, ACI 350 is a recommended standard for durability and serviceability. 

ASCE set forth the loading criteria for all structures. This is used to determine the soil pressure, groundwater, etc. against the walls and slabs of pools. So, the methodology for the structural design of pools within ACI is as follows: 

1.     (Required) Loading: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 7)

2.     (Required) ACI 318: Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete

     a.     (Option) ACI 350: Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures 

There is a new code available this year, the 2012 International Swimming Pool Code (ISPC), published by International Codes Council. No state has adopted this code yet. ISPC references ACI 318 as the standard. So, the structural design of pools is still the same.




Many people use different definitions for the term “Shotcrete”. To clarify, the International Building Code (IBC), Section 1910 clearly defines “Shotcrete” as “…a mortar or concrete that is pneumatically projected at high velocity onto a surface.” The American Concrete Institute (ACI) ACI 506 (Guide to Shotcrete) further defines shotcrete as a “wet-mix” process and “gunite” as a “dry-mix process”. Both shotcrete and gunite are defined as “Shotcrete”.

From the terms above, you can see that shotcrete is purely a method of placement. It is not a design process. Therefore, whether the pool shell placement method is shotcrete or cast-in-place, the design method is still the same. Don’t let anyone tell you there is a difference in the design. There is not!


Measuring The Olympic Aquatic Facility Course

If you’ve been watching the Olympic swimming events, you’ve probably been noticing all the exciting finishes and as the athletes win their medals.  What you have likely missed is the tiny target marking on the edge of each lane.  This target is what the surveyor uses to accurately measure the length of the pool each day. 

Facility Design & Construction Module MAHC

The Facility Design & Construction module for the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) has just been posted by the CDC today, July 20, 2012 for public comment. This module will likely have the greatest impact for the design, regulatory and construction community and not as much for operators as other modules. The deadline for public comments is October 14, 2012. Counsilman-Hunsaker strongly encourages everyone in the aquatic community to review and participate in this process.

If you are a frequent reader of Hydrologicblog, you will have seen the responses that have been compiled by Counsilman – Hunsaker and submitted as a friend of the industry through the public comment process.  If you would like to read these responses, please visit the regulation section of the blog.  We would be very interested in your comments on this section to be included in our response.

MAHC Facility Design & Construction Module Abstract

The sound design and construction of swimming pools, spas, and aquatic venues are paramount to ensuring safety of patrons who use these facilities. The Facility Design & Construction Module contains requirements for new pool construction that includes:

1) Design/construction aspects of the pool shell that include general shape, design, and slope requirements;

2) Design/construction aspects of the aquatic venue that include decks, lighting, electrical, wastewater, and fencing;

3) Design/construction aspects of specialty bodies of water and features that include spas, wave pools, slide pools, wading pools, and infinity edges; and

4) Design/construction parameters for pool equipment and under what conditions its use is acceptable including starting blocks, moveable floors, bulkheads, and diving boards.

In addition to the Facility Design & Construction module, an annex section is provides support information to assist users in understanding the background of the provisions.

The Model Aquatic Health Code Steering Committee and Technical Committees appreciate your willingness to comment on the draft MAHC modules. Click here to download comment form.

All public comments will filter back to the Technical Committee for review before the module is officially released.

MAHC Background

The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) effort began in February 2005. The first industry standard was issued in 1958. In the subsequent 50 years, there have been at least 50 different state codes and many independent county codes. What was required in one jurisdiction may be illegal in another. It is clear that this historic approach is not working. Thus, the National Swimming Pool Foundation took a leadership position and provided funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for the creation of the MAHC. The MAHC is intended to transform the patch work of industry codes into a data-driven, knowledge-based, risk reduction effort to prevent disease, injuries and promote healthy water experiences. To view the latest updates regarding the Model Aquatic Health Code go to