Category Archives: Design

Unique Design Approach for Projects Located in North Slope, Alaska.

North Slope Alaska is a unique place that presents unique design challenges for swimming pool projects.  Due to the remote nature of most pools in the North Slope, simple tasks like delivering equipment and performing scheduled maintenance can turn into a huge endeavor.  These challenges are addressed during design by strategically selecting robust equipment that requires limited maintenance over its expected life.  For example, cartridge filters are typically utilized by North Slope pools instead of sand or regenerative media, due to their simplistic design and ease of cleaning.  Another helpful design practice is to incorporate remote monitoring into the pool mechanical system.  This feature, typically a part of the pool chemistry controller, allows individuals to remotely monitor and even change the pool system characteristics that are in constant flux.

 

Other obstacles that are involved with North Slope pool design involve limited potable water, challenging soil issues, unreliable power sources, and limited space for mechanical equipment.  In many remote areas of the North Slope the simple task of filling a pool can be a challenge due to limited fresh water supply.  How the pool is filled and how long it will take to fill is addressed and coordinated early in the design process to prevent any potential issues when the pool is complete and ready to be filled.  Unreliable power sources are another common issue often faced on the North Slope.  Pool systems can be complex, involve multiple electric components, and require continual operation 24 hours a day to maintain safe conditions for pool users.  If the source power to the pool system fails, water circulationand chemical treatment will inevitably stop.  Additionally, hard shut downs on the pool equipment can be damaging.  While most North Slope installations have backup power to assist during these emergency scenarios, it is still important to thoroughly coordinate electrical design of the pool system and verify that all electric pool components can handle the occasional hard shut down and startup.  Strategic placement of check valves is also necessary to control the flow of water when the power goes out as flow from the pool re-circulation pump is lost.

 

Two additional design obstacles commonly faced on North Slope projects are the difficult soil conditions and lack of space for pool equipment.  Due to the unique soil conditions of the North Slope, traditional below grade concrete pool design and construction is not feasible.  Construction typically consists of above grade stainless steel pool structures to accommodate the local soil conditions.  This method of design and construction is unique and requires special coordination during the design phase that most pool projects in the lower 48 states do not require.  The last common issue frequently faced on North Slope projects is a lack of available space for the pool mechanical systems.  Construction in the North Slope is very costly, so creative and efficient mechanical room design to maximize space usage is a must.

 

While challenging, designing pools for the North Slope can be both successful and rewarding with a little bit of forethought  and careful planning.

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Logos at the Bottom of Dive Wells

Hawkeyes, Tigers, a Lumberjack Blade, and P in the pool?  Well maybe not quite, but these school logos can be seen at the bottom of University dive pools across the country.   Used mainly for instilling school pride and psyching out opposing dive teams, these logos have been staples of new aquatic facilities over the last 10 to 15 years.

These logos are large and can be seen anywhere in the natatorium.  A dive pool is typically 75’ (25 yards) by approximately 58’ and the school logos can be upwards of 20’ by 30’ or even larger.   Universities require that these logos follow their exact guidelines for color and dimensions.   After the dive pool structure is constructed and the concrete is prepped, the logo is carefully laid out.   Tile setters install unglazed ceramic mosaic tile as the logos final finish.  After the logo is completed, the rest of the pool finish is applied.  This can be tile, similar to what was used for the logo, or a quartz aggregate plaster finish.  Floor markers for swimming are not installed at the bottom of the dive pool when logos are present.  Wall targets and floating lane ropes still allow for lap swimming and a warm up/warm down area for large swim meets.  Dive pools typically have diffusers for the sparger (air bubbling) system at the bottom of the pool.   Spargers are used for training and create a soft landing for divers attempting new and difficult dives.  The diffusers are painted to match the logo where conflicts exist.  The logos can also be advantageous for divers during competition.  The logo provides a contrasting color to the typically white ceiling of the natatorium which helps the diver spot the water surface during complex dives that require numerous spins, twists, and flips.

Often these logos are the center of photographs highlighting the Aquatic Center and sometimes the entire University.  Check out these great images of dive pool logos….

 

 

Pool Features

As a swimming pool consultant, I have the pleasure of inspecting, auditing, and renovating an abundance of existing swimming pools each and every year.  It seems to be that a majority of the older pools I encounter are some variation of a 6-lane, 25-yard lap pool with potentially, if they are lucky, 1-meter diving at the deep end.  Functionally, there is nothing wrong with these types of pools.  They are great for swim lessons, an occasional swim meet, or for simply cooling off on a hot summer day.  What these pools are lacking, in my opinion, is something that will keep users coming back day after day.  These pools need some excitement! 

What exactly can you do to pump up the thrill factor in your pool?  Well, one of the simplest ways is to install new pool features.  With today’s technology, it is not necessary to build a new pool in order to capture the excitement you are looking for.  In fact, it is not even necessary to endure a prolonged shutdown.  Pool feature manufacturers have been making leaps and bounds in terms of minimally evasive features that can be added to an existing pool.  In some cases, minor pool deck or pool floor anchors will need to be added, however, many of the newer generation features can utilize existing pool anchors or even no anchors at all.

With a vast array of pool features on the market, you, as the Owner, will need to determine which features will suit the needs of the facility, the management personnel, as well as the patrons who will be using them.  Some of the most popular new features that I have come across include climbing walls, miniature zip-lines, and monkey ropes.  If you are more a fan of the classic competition games, water basketball or water volleyball are always an excellent choice.  One of the most challenging features that has recently emerged is the log rolling activity which imitates a log floating on the water surface. The goal is to balance on the log while it rolls back and forth and ultimately outlast your opponent who is positioned on the other end of the log.  Each feature, however, should be thoroughly vetted prior to purchase with consideration given to maintenance staff, life-guarding staff, and age group offerings.

Gone are the days that a standard lap pool will suffice as the sole aquatic offering for a community.  While great for lap swimmers, many of the patrons are looking for a little something more.  Adding a mix of pool features that will appeal to an array of age groups is a surefire way to add some spice to your existing pool.

 

 

Working Close To Home

Counsilman-Hunsaker was founded in 1970 in St. Louis, Missouri and while we are a national company with offices in four states and projects across the U.S., St. Louis will always be home. This summer three of those “hometown” projects were opened for business. Today we are going to highlight one of them. While our project management team takes pride in every project, the O’Fallon Alligator Creek Aquatic Center project in particular is close to the heart of our president Scott Hester.

O’Fallon Alligator Creek Aquatic Center

Scott Hester calls the City of O’Fallon, MO home and when a call to develop a community advocacy team to lead local efforts at garnering support for the project, he happily agreed.  This group comprised of 8 O’Fallon residents raised awareness on the positive impacts that aquatics and recreation opportunities can have on their community.  This group came to be known as the O’Fallon Parks and Action Team (OPAT) and met bi-weekly for nearly 6 months planning and strategizing how to initially educate the community on the proposed Alligator Creek Aquatic Center expansion.  So often there is an under appreciation of the value that providing a community with aquatic opportunities.  From swim lessons to swim team, the positive impact that aquatic experiences can have on its’ residence is immeasurable.

Once the community was well informed, it then came the OPAT mission to initiate support for the passage of a ½ cent sales tax proposition that would be used to fund the project.  Through many public meetings and community outreach efforts, the residence of O’Fallon successfully passed the bond issue with an approximate 60% yes vote.  Upon passage of the bond issue the city hired a team of architects and engineers for completion of the facility’s design, and the project was competitively bid within budget with the support of a Construction Management team.  In May of 2018 the newly expanded Alligator Creek was opened to the public and 2 weeks later Scott’s children participated in the first swim meet at the aquatic center.

About the Aquatic Center

The City of O’Fallon Alligator Aquatic Center was originally built in 1969 and included a competition pool. While the Aquatic Center has undergone numerous renovations, including an expansion in 2001 adding a second Leisure Pool, this is the biggest renovation and expansion to date. While the aquatic center still includes the existing two pools, the addition of a lazy river and sprayground have doubled the aquatic centers size. The existing pools also receive a nice facelift with new paint and added features that every family will enjoy. The Aquatic Center includes:

Competition Pool

  • 13,000 ft² including separate waterslide plunge area
  • Three waterslides including and open and enclosed body slide as well as a dropslide
  • One-meter springboard diving

Leisure Pool

  • 1,200 sq. ft. pool with zero depth entry
  • Vortex
  • NEW expanded open water swimming area
  • NEW stair entry
  • NEW Multi-play structure
  • NEW Water basketball and volleyball
  • NEW Waterwalk

NEW Lazy River

  • 600 ft. long lazy river
  • Zero depth entry
  • Large underwater bench area

NEW Sprayground

  • Spray features for children of all ages
  • Ability to be operational while the Aquatic Center is closed

If you want more information on the O’Fallon Alligator Creek Aquatic Center or an inside look into the park visit our friends at O’Fallon’s Facebook page (tag City of O’Fallon – Government) or check out this video highlighting the facility https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0qon7IjEGw

 

Designing for the Generations – X, Y & Z

Image result for generation x

 

Demographics in many ways define the social structure of a nation and it is very useful to understand the generations when designing a multi-generational aquatic facility.  Generation X is the generation born after the Western post WWII baby boom and as a generation they have the following characteristics:

  • Independent
  • Work towards high-quality end results
  • Productivity
  • Balance between work and life – Work to live, not live to work
  • Flexible work hours/job sharing is appealing
  • See themselves as a marketable commodity
  • Technically competent

Generation X is the mature family market and early empty-nesters.  In their aquatic experiences they desire having quality family experiences so amenities like wave pools, lazy rivers, and family water slides all appeal to this generation.  Due to their independent and competitive nature, they also enjoy the competitive aspects of swimming and due to their continued aging they also realize that after competing they enjoy the leisure and social aspects of the aquatic environment which can involve hot tubs and swim up bars.

Generation Y is the generation of the Millennial.  There are no precise dates for this generation, but typically they are defined as those born between the early 1980’s into the early 2000’s.  Generation Y is defined by the following characteristics:

  • Ambitious
  • Family orientated
  • Technically savvy – the first to grow up with the internet
  • Experiential in nature
  • Team players
  • Communicators – social media
  • Collaborative in nature
  • Like to be loved

Generation Y, or the Millennial generation, is the generation of single adults and young families.  This generation being young and experiential in nature like thrill rides.  The more aggressive the ride, the better it is loved.  Due to their experiential nature, aquatic rides such as the Flow-rider are a hit as they can continually improve their performance over time and they can also change the experience as their skill set advances from a body board to a surf board.  Team sports that can be played in water ranging from volleyball to underwater hockey are enjoyed by this generation.  Social settings such as wave pools and rivers also appeal to Generation Y.

Image result for generation y

Young families enjoy the exploration and discovery of aquatic play features in shallow water.   Families bond while participating in discovery experiences and aquatic facilities can provide many avenues for this experience to occur.  One of the most important aquatic activities for young families is the learn to swim programs for the next generation.

Generation Z is loosely defined as the people born after Generation Y.  This includes all who are children or young adults.  This generation is defined by the following characteristics:

  • Technically savvy – smart phones, tablets, electronics
  • Socially aware
  • Self-starting, entrepreneurial in nature
  • Prudent
  • Socially connected
  • Want to impact the world

With the explosion of social media in the last number of years, generation Z is entirely connected both socially and electronically.  This allows them to share their lives either in person or digitally with their friends.  Hanging out and sharing experiences with friends is extremely important for this generation.  Therefore almost everything that encompasses recreational aquatics is desirable from this generation.  As a digitally connected generation, videos of activities, race times, etc. are desirable and loaded onto social media to connect to those that are not present.

The great news about designing multi-generational facilities is that there is significant overlap in the types of activities desired even though the generations may be participating for different reasons.  Knowing the characteristics of each generation allows for a design and programming approach to aquatic facilities that promotes experiential activities for all generations and provides for meaningful competitive, recreational and social outlets for the community.