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Elkhart Health, Fitness & Aquatic Center Elkhart, IN

Project Category : Private Recreation

Total Construction Cost : $52,673,212

Total Gross Square Feet : 170,000

Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $310

How was the facility funded? : Private donations / Government Funds

Project Description:

An exciting joint venture developed by Beacon Health System, the City of Elkhart, a private investment group, and Elkhart Community Schools is resulting in a win-win for this Northern Indiana community. A new 2-story facility, at 170,000 SF, includes aquatics for private use and competition; a large public health/wellness center; and a private health club.

The large aquatics area includes both athletic and recreational pools. The main offering is an Olympic-sized 66 meter pool with two bulkheads, allowing for multiple fields of play. Options for 25-yard, 25-meter or 50-meter swimming offers multiple course lengths and makes the pool a perfect venue for training. 1-meter, 3-meter, and 5-meter dive springboards and platforms, along with a warm-up tank, accommodate competition divers. With room for 1200 spectators, as well as sales and concession areas, the facility is capable of hosting both regional events and local swim meets. A supportive 'wet classroom' serves as a staging area for competition, parties, or related events. The pool is also supported with men's and women's lockers, separate visiting team lockers, and coach's offices. The recreational pool includes a ramped entry with wide stairs and a terrace for youth instruction and learn-to-swim programs. Aquatic therapy offerings include a separate therapy pool and a water treadmill. An inclusive spa with a carefully placed entry point allows for wheelchair access.

A separately accessed public area includes a large gym, three multipurpose rooms, a lounge and concourse with glassy views into the large aquatics area, a teaching kitchen, and a craft room overlooking an outdoor rooftop terrace. An outdoor mini-amphitheater is intended to host community theater, dance, and music performances with lawn seating.

The private health club portion of the facility includes a 10,000 SF fitness area, group exercise rooms, bariatric consultation rooms, locker rooms, two racquetball courts, a gym, and a 3-lane elevated running track.

When Elkhart decided to build a world-class community center they created a consortium that included Beacon Health, the City of Elkhart, Elkhart Community Schools and major community leaders and philanthropists. The goal was to provide a venue for national swimming events as well as a community amenity enjoyed by everyone. The following descriptive comments describe how this was achieved.

1. Functional Planning

The building has two major entries to allow simultaneous of the facility during major competitive events without disrupting the daily use patterns of regular users. The west entrance provides access for everyday users and leads to all the major fitness opportunities in the complex such as the large weight fitness space, group exercise room and therapeutic aquatic workouts while the east entrance allows for major events without disturbing everyday users. The 1,200 person seating tray in the natatorium is physically separated from the pool deck to prevent athletes from intermixing with the spectators.

Generous use of glass walls in the facility maximizes transparency allowing patrons to see the amenities within the complex and to easily orient themselves in this large complex.

2. Interior Design

Materials and finishes for this facility were selected for their durability, sustainability and visual delight. Furnishings provide flexible use of the spaces while contributing to a welcoming atmosphere. The ceramic tile on the pool deck defines areas of use by defining zones for timers, coaches and athletes. Outdoor light floods the major use areas including the natatorium which overlooks a river surrounding the site on three sides. Colors were selected for their timelessness and to allow accent colors and theming devices to be the focal points during the life of the complex.

3. Exterior Design

Brick was used to relate to the adjacent downtown area which is a rich composite of brick buildings dating from the 1920s &30s. The massing was articulated into smaller forms to break down the scale of an inherently "massy" building type. Light colored metal panels were used in the upper parts of the building to lighten up the building's large dimensions. Visual textures in the masonry were incorporated to relate to the historic nature of the local vernacular

4. Site

The site was selected to be adjacent to a well-used park connected to the Riverwalk which connects this site to the main downtown district. Generous and strategically placed glass allows views that connect users to the surrounding park areas and the river. The entrances are positioned to align with the existing pedestrian circulation patterns. The building is placed deep in the site and is "hugged" on three sides by the St. Joseph River. A large outdoor events plaza on the north side of the building engages the adjacent park and encourages connectivity to the community.

5. Cost

During project development, estimates were reviewed at all major phases of design. The focus of the design team's effort was to get the most bang-for-the buck without sacrificing world-class functionality and world-class image. Materials were selected to stand the test of time and to nurture a sense of welcome and place. The natatorium is a major energy consumer in this facility so energy recovery systems were designed to re-use rejected heat generated by the dehumidification devices in the natatorium air handlers.

The facility is a new point of pride for the Elkhart community and will enhance the quality of life of its inhabitants for years to come.

Floor Plans