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When you think of swimming pool design, the first image that might come to mind could be a large pool of crystal clear water. Before putting the first shovel in the ground or upgrading an older center, many factors need to be addressed for these unique aquatic facilities. The programming , planning, and rehabilitation of aquatic facilities for both recreational and competitive use include collaborating with clients, the design team and even end users to create a plan that enhances and optimizes their vision and goals.
“For the majority of aquatic facilities, project planning for environmental, facility, geotechnical, and material factors is critical,” says Matt Reynolds, Department Manager of Aquatics for Terracon. “By assisting our clients in evaluating sites and identifying goals and objectives, we create a strategy to design new aquatic facilities or renovate existing aquatic facilities, optimizing end-user benefits.”
Indoor or outdoor – it matters. When it comes to evaluating property conditions for swimming pools, located either in a natatorium or outdoors, review is necessary of the pool and building’s mechanical and chemical treatment systems, the building envelope (roofs, walls and waterproofing), foundations, finishes, air quality, applicable governing codes, and ADA Accessibility Guidelines. A comprehensive and often multi-disciplined team is needed to address the desired project delivery approach with a with a cost-effective service delivery.
Many existing indoor natatorium facilities have poor air quality and moisture migration that are the result of years of deferred maintenance, ill-advised HVAC adjustments, failing envelope systems (allowing water intrusion). To better plan for project needs, it is often necessary to conduct environmental studies to determine indoor air quality and assess whether the systems (building envelope and HVAC are contributors to the moisture imbalance and resultant less than desired performance. These factors must be considered to truly rehabilitate a failing facility. The resultant remediation plan should address all of the systems beyond just the water related pumps and treatment systems.
As an example, a collaborative effort of our building enclosure and HVAC specialists was required for a Higher Education project in San Antonio, which included a natatorium and gym with a common wall constructed circa 1990. Initially assessment findings identified a myriad of building issues indicating obvious water intrusion (gaps in mortar joints, debonding of CMU units, missing weep openings, deteriorated sealant expansion joints, unsealed openings at through-wall penetrations), however the effort required additional review to address staining and mold growth on exterior walls, efflorescence of exterior split face CMU, corrosion of metallic surfaces in the pool building and fouling of mechanical equipment. A truly multi-disciplined team professionals with expertise in building enclosure, mechanical and aquatic evaluation, testing, design and commissioning provided the university with recommendations followed by a comprehensive remedial design program to renovate the facility to meet the future needs of the growing Higher Education campus, restoring it as a showpiece..
Aquatic projects have the potential to pose interesting challenges. A unique one is known as a “floating shell.” This occurs when hydrostatic pressure below the pool floor is so significant that when a pool is empty, it pushes the shell upward, creating large cracks, leaks and destroying pool piping. Once again, several different disciplines are needed to accurately address the related issues – geotechnical study which provides structural engineers with the best information to minimize foundation design issues while meeting applicable building codes and standards. Additionally, design standards to the pool engineering should be developed by a plumbing engineer to ensure that the system provides hydrostatic relief valves in each main drain sump and a sight sump to allow pool operators to view the in-ground water level with respect to the bottom of the pool prior to any pool draining procedures, thereby avoiding movement by the pool shell.
An aquatic project should account for materials testing to verify materials quality per specified requirements. Swimming pool shells are typically constructed of reinforced concrete and require rebar inspection, concrete placement inspection, and test panel materials testing. The pool shell is designed to be watertight without any finishes applied, so verification by water tightness testing is a recommended quality control measure. For existing pool shells that have moved, cracked, or are leaking, a forensic evaluation of the existing concrete by professionals with specific experience in concrete and compatible waterproofing membranes and surface finishes is needed to provide clients with the most reliable renovation to maximize facility longevity.
Swimming pool shell engineering is critical component of the overall aquatic design, not only for slab-on-grade pools, but exposed or elevated shells. As example, on a indoor natatorium project in Pittsburgh, PA, Terracon was retained to determine the cause of leaking of a pool shell over occupied space below, that was installed only months prior to the evaluation. A pool shell water tightness test detailed leaks from many locations around the 8 lane by 25-yard competition pool into occupied space below the deck. Obvious indications of design, installation or materials quality issues. Concrete remediation recommendations and compatible waterproofing membranes were designed and remedial actions taken such that the tile setting manufacturer warranty was not voided. As a result, a water tight pool shell was restored and 25-year tile warranty was provided for the desired result on this new facility.
Making a splash with an aquatic facility is the easy part. Maintaining the facility performance for the intended use and long-term return on investment (ROI) requires awareness of a myriad of issues two be addressed during the design and construction of any new facility. In addition, due to the complex nature of these facilities and their operational and often hostile environments related to building components, rehabilitation requires a team of multi-disciplined professionals working together to assess and restore the facility for its intended and un-impaired use. This will continue to challenge the industry as owners look to provide even more complicated and sophisticated aquatic facilities for marketing purposes in a variety of building settings.
Ever notice a breeze in older buildings, even when it is not windy? Many buildings are leaking air, which means the owners are losing money. The Charlotte Mecklenburg School System (CMSS), one of the largest in the United States with a $1.3 billion operating budget, decided to take action to identify buildings in the school system that might be exhibiting air leakage. Full Story
The article discusses how advances in construction materials engineering testing and using advanced collaboration methods, can help achieve better results.
When you’re responsible for housing the data center operations for the Southeast’s largest concentration of telecommunications companies, the words “leaky roof” are likely to cause you more than just a little anxiety. So when a renovation contractor requested that Terracon provide a roofing evaluation and specification to reroof the 10-story, 103-year-old 56 Marietta Street building in downtown Atlanta, it was clear that this project would require special attention. The historic brick hotel built in 1912 is now home to a 160,000-square-foot data center. The U-shaped building has four different levels of roofing which cover approximately 13,000 square feet. The third floor was Terracon’s particular focus and proved to be an unique opportunity for roof consultation.
The project’s challenges began to mount early in the discovery phase. Terracon began by conducting destructive testing which identified that the building actually had two roofing systems – one of which was coal-tar pitch that dated back to the original construction. Coring roof samples then revealed that water had been running under the most recent roof system – a 15-year-old modified bitumen system. A subsequent moisture scan showed the third floor roof to be 100 percent wet. Full Story.
With a unique new design that includes an observatory dome 40 feet above the ground, half of its planetarium dome outside of the building, and multiple exterior cladding systems; some say the building looks like a spaceship.
The original San Antonio College Planetarium opened as part of the Alamo College System in 1961 and has entertained and educated more than 2 million people. The facility was rededicated in 1994 as the Scobee Planetarium to honor NASA astronaut and former San Antonio College student, Francis R. Scobee, who served as commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s tragic final flight in 1986. Complete story found here.