Sustainable Natatorium/Aquatics Center Design – Part Three (Use Mindful Massing)
The shape and size (i.e., massing) of an aquatics center not only create its image, but also affect energy consumption and light distribution.
One of the first things people notice about the Niles North High School Aquatics Center is its intriguing shape. Aesthetically, the dramatic curved form creates a sense of movement that reflects what’s happening on the inside. Additionally, at night, the translucent glass creates a glowing beacon to welcome the community to events.
The shape was a contributing factor in achieving the facility’s LEED Gold certification. On the north side, there is an eleven-foot-high mezzanine walkway that has about twenty feet of height clearance to the structure above. The tiered spectator seating even has a twelve-foot clearance at the highest row of seats. These heights were necessary to provide the code-required height for the three-meter diving and to provide a comfortable viewing environment for the spectators.
Athlete seating along the south wall didn’t require that height, so we lowered the height there to provide a twelve-foot clearance. This way, the heating and cooling systems don’t have to work as hard as they would if the entire ceiling was 31 feet.