SHARED SPACE SOLUTION
South Summitt Aquatic and Fitness Center
Serving two masters is never easy. The South Summit Aquatic and Fitness Center in Kamas, Utah, just makes it look that way. The facility, owned by the local school system, offers recreation opportunities to both district students and the residents of Kamas Valley. It accomplishes this arduous task through an innovative design that allows the center to easily transition from a physical-education resource to a community health club several times a day.
"It was a challenge," says architect Brent Tippets of VCBO Architecture. "It has a unique double usage in a very recreation-minded community."
The design encourages the center's dual purposes through an open layout that minimizes hidden spaces. It also has separate doors for students and the public. With limited hiding places and controlled access points, educators can keep better tabs on students and prevent visitors from entering the school area.
Once inside, the facility is not your typical middle-school gym and natatorium.
The center, which is used by all grade levels in the district, features a signature aquatic component with dramatic open space, interactive play areas and two pools. The first is a traditional six-lane, 25-yard competition pool. The other is a leisure pool complete with a 150-foot long helical slide and a children's play area that includes a tot slide and water cannons. It also has a six-foot-wide lazy river that can be used for floating fun or a water-resistance workout. The pool's zero-depth entry and cushioned surfaces make it inviting to young patrons as well.
The center also includes an indoor track, fitness room, aerobics room and climbing wall. The aerobics room, which cheerleading squads often use for practice, has mirrors mounted on one wall as well as a dual-height dance barre. The room can accommodate several different activities, including dance, karate, kickboxing and yoga.
The fitness room, complete with cardiovascular and strength-conditioning equipment, is located on the second level with open views into the pool area and other activity spaces. The second-level track circulates around the majority of the center, making it a central link to the other spaces in the building.
The facility's centerpiece, however, is its climbing wall. The 32-foot wall pays tribute to the Uintah Mountain range in which the Kamas Valley lies. Designers chose to build the wall in a four-sided glass tower that offers a spectacular view of the valley and integrates the facility into its setting. The windows promote energy efficiency by reducing the need for artificial light during the day. The wall, which serves as the main focal point as one drives into the center, also gives the school system an invaluable opportunity to teach climbing safety to young students.
"We're really in a unique situation," says Stephen Sutherland, facility manager. "Everyone involved feels blessed to be a part of it."
So does that mean the students fully appreciate the incredible recreation opportunity the school district has given them?
"The parents do," Sutherland says. "We get told on a regular basis how grateful they are."