Public/private partnership aims to build northern Illinois multigenerational swimming destination with social, health, and economic benefits
[St. Charles, IL] – In the tri-city area of St. Charles, Geneva, and Batavia, swimming is big: there are adult swimmers, high school competitors, children in learn-to-swim programs, and many other pool enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the area has no facility large enough to host all the activities these groups demand year-round.
An enterprising group of parents and community swimmers formed Swim City USA to address this shortcoming. The group commissioned a feasibility study, which revealed a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to build a versatile aquatics facility that would become a social, health, and economic center. St. Charles Park District performed an independent study that led to the same conclusion. A partnership was formed.
The partnership challenged Legat Architects to create a multifaceted aquatics center featuring an Olympic-size competition pool, as well as a smaller teaching pool. The resulting design for the 65,000-square-foot St. Charles Aquatics Center proposes a first-of-its-kind regional venue for competitions, lessons, therapy, and recreation for all ages. It includes a 50-meter, 10-lane pool and a 3-lane pool that connects to a small aquatic playground.
Swim City USA and St. Charles Park District envision that the facility will accommodate competitive swimming, beginner and age group lessons, physical therapy, diving, SCUBA, triathlon training, water polo, and much more.
Swim City USA and St. Charles Park District are now in the fundraising phase. Studies revealed that the facility has the potential to inject nearly $60,000,000 into St. Charles’s economy over the first five years.
Design Considers User Types
Unlike most natatoriums and aquatics centers, the St. Charles Aquatics Center design separates the pools with a main corridor.
The locker room differences respond to different pool users. The small pool side has a clubhouse-type feel that serves members and swimmers in recreational or learning programs, while the no-frills side is geared toward competitive swimmers less prone to lingering.
Response to Surroundings
The design responds to the facility’s location amid the St. Charles’s East Side Sports Complex, which includes soccer and baseball fields, courts, a skate park, and trails.
A rooftop deck caps the smaller pool. It offers gardens, café tables, two serving windows, and views to the fields. A large glass window separates the deck from the large pool’s mezzanine level, which those on the deck can access. A grand outdoor staircase near the center’s entry leads to the roof. The staircase also functions as a gathering/waiting area and training element.
Legat’s Michael Maloney, project designer, said, “The roof deck serves as a spectator and athlete gathering area for large events. Additionally, parents will be able to access the deck from the outdoor stairs, get a snack or a coffee, and watch a soccer game from above.”
The center will also have community rooms, an outdoor playground, and toilet facilities accessible from the outside.
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