Zeeland Natatorium


Premise: This project represents a community with a longstanding tradition of excellence in aquatic programs. The community recreation promotes wellness through aquatic programs and their high schools perennially lead the state in swimming, diving and water polo. Having outgrown an existing facility, they bonded for a new natatorium. It’s primary function was to provide their high schools a competition venue rivaling collegiate facilities, while secondarily enhancing the recreation dept. offerings.

Collaboration; The original desire was for a stand alone facility serving the community rec. dept. & both of the community’s high schools. The final solution was developed as an addition to one of the existing high schools. This design solution provided an enhanced value at a lower cost by benefiting from existing infrastructure.

Design: The design concept was to promote a fluid machine like nature of a competitive aquatic venue. The sun control devices are an example that provide visual excitement, and promote the machine like feel while carefully and exactly promoting the competitive function (eliminating direct glare). Other details enhancing the concept; stainless steel componentized handrails, exposed geometric structure, state of the art aquatic technology.

The owner desired natural light in the pool area. The challenge was balancing recreation’s desire to maximize natural light and the competitive teams’ concern with direct glare. The solution floods the interior with true full spectrum light via a clerestory on both sides of the pool. The light is controlled to avoid contact with the water via sunshades, louvers, and translucent canopies. The exterior sunshade is a dramatic exterior expression that announces an exiting interior space, but also functionally serves as shading for the fenestration on its façade.

The louvers on the lower portion of the glazing shield direct sunlight from contacting the water surface and also reduce the need for artificial light by bouncing natural light up into the space.
The ‘canopy’ over the spectator area is a translucent diffuser filtering and reflecting direct sunlight from adjacent clearstory windows, providing soft natural light throughout the space. The canopy also provides an appropriate scale for the spectators area. The curved roof efficiently provides the needed height at the spectator side of the natatorium, but also suggests the machine-like motion that is associated with the aquatics.

The entry offers a panoramic view of the natatorium from both the lobby and its stair as one ascends to the spectator area. A glass wall is designed to provide interaction between the pool and lobby guests, promoting excitement and desire to participate in its aquatic programs. The lobby is strategically placed to serve the Natatorium as well as a future performing arts space. It’s location also allows for an easy pool rental to community members that segregates from the high school.

Quick Tour

  • 659,000 Gallons Of Water
  • 79°-80° Water Temperature
  • 36 X 25 Yard Pool
  • Swimming Competitions Capable at 25 yard 25m or 33 1/3m
  • 10 Lane Competition Swimming
  • 16 Lane Practice Swimming
  • Movable Bulkhead
  • 2 – 1 Meter Diving Boards
  • 2 – 3 Meter Diving Boards
  • Water Polo – Olympic Competition Court and High School Competition Courts
  • Seating For 552 Spectators
  • Air & Water Heat Recovery Systems
  • High Performance Lighting Design
  • Geothermal Heat Rejection
  • High Efficiency Boilers
  • Low Water Waste Filtration System
  • Colorado Time System Equipment
  • 21’ X 11’ Full Color LED Video Display Scoreboard
  • Automatic Water Leveling System
  • Computer Controlled Chemical Feeders




  • Recreation Management: Innovative Architecture & Design Awards, 2008 Winner
  • Learning By Design: 2008 Design Awards, Honorable Mention


47,800 SF


(Construction Cost)


Completed in August 2006