Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Center Lenexa, KS

Project Category : Public Recreation

Total Construction Cost : $24 million

Total Gross Square Feet : 54,341 SF

Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $441.70

How was the facility funded? : Other / School Bond

Project Description:

Shawnee Mission School District wanted to create a central location for their aquatics program. Their plan was to build a facility where all five high schools in the district could compete. To achieve this, they needed a space that could host larger meets than could be accommodated at their individual schools.

ACI Boland Architects was selected to design the 54,344 SF Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Center. The new facility is an open and inviting, light-filled, healthy environment that fosters a sense of community, education, opportunity, athleticism and competition. Each year, it will bring thousands of visitors to the area, realizing the Districts vision of creating a facility that serves the entire Midwest region.


To maximize the space and enhance the visitor experience, all functions surround the 50-meter pool with clear definitions. The spectators are elevated above the pool deck on raked bleacher seating for 1,000, providing optimum sight lines and separation from the pool deck and swimming activities. Tucked under the bleachers are the support spaces for running events and accommodating swimmers needs, such as a wet classroom, mens and womens locker rooms, unisex individual shower changing rooms, a training room, a coaches room and two, timing rooms. This arrangement makes the most of the buildings total square footage.

The north end of the natatorium hosts dryland training, crash space and two, 1-meter and two, 3-meter diving boards. Pool deck storage is adjacent to this area, increasing convenience for facility maintenance.

On the east side of the pool, there is the equipment and mechanical room, which is below pool level enhancing the operation of those systems. At the pool deck level of this area, there is the 25-yard, 4-lane instructional warm water pool. The southern third of which features a movable floor that can be raised to a 0 elevation or lowered to 7, offering instructors ultimate flexibility.

The south end of the building is the public circulation spine. The main entrance, reception and facility offices are the first thing visitors encounter as they enter the lobby. Beyond, the grand stair and sitting areas offer continuous views into the natatorium. The concession stand, public toilets, elevator and alternate entrance to the attached parking garage are located at the far end of the lobby. From the top of the grand stairs, visitors can access the viewing mezzanine, which overlooks the entire pool area. This was designed for patrons who might not tolerate the warm, moist conditions of the natatorium. On this level, toilet facilities and access to the bleachers via stairs and an elevator can also be found.


The wood glulam beams and concrete buttresses are the predominate materials that define the interior design. Not only are they beautiful, they serve as the backbone of the structural system supporting the long clear spans over the pool.

Large expanses of glass on the north and south facades bring abundant natural light deep into the building. On the southern face, the glass leans out slightly, featuring an overhanging roof that works together with the lobby mezzanine to naturally shield and block glare from light landing on the pool water.


Sandwiched between two busy streets, the Aquatic Center occupies an entire block in the new, Lenexa City Center development that has seen tremendous growth over the last few years. A curved roof and glass walls connect the structure to the buildings around it.

The exterior design is expressed through the roof glulam structure and the tilting glass facades that are integral to the interior design and not merely applied. The movement of the roof, walls and metal panels are all designed to evoke the sense of moving water. The skin is a combination of concrete structural panels, large expanses of glazing that tilt outward, and multi-colored metal panels that all create a sense of flow.


The Aquatics Center and attached parking structure use the entire city block with only small areas of land between the structure and surrounding sidewalk and amenity zones. This required careful planning to fit the expansive program into a tight, efficient design.


Financed as part of a school bond initiative, the total cost of the construction project for the Aquatics Center was $24 million, excluding the attached parking garage and land. The land was donated by the city, and they are an equal partner in the approximately $4 million parking structure.

Floor Plans