Architecture West Architecture West

Architectural West

July/August 2008

Aquatics Center
by Blaine Mallory

Brentwood School has celebrated the opening of its new Caruso Watt Aquatics Center designed by architects at Parallax Associates. Featuring a 25-meter by 25-yard, 10-lane competition swimming pool, and a 5,100-square-foot aquatics building, the new facility is the latest demonstration of Brentwood School’s commitment to athletics as an integral part of its comprehensive educational program.

Founded in 1972, Brentwood School consists of a lower school campus (K-6) and a middle and upper school campus (7-12). Both are located on Sunset Boulevard in the Los Angeles community of Brentwood, Calif. Parallax architects Craig Jameson and Joseph Masotta have worked with the school since 1994 on a variety of projects ranging from extensive remodeling to new campus buildings. The new Aquatics Center is the twelfth collaboration between Parallax and Brentwood School. “I am thrilled that the Aquatics Center is now a reality,” said Dr. Michael Pratt, Brentwood’s head of school, “and I look forward to our students enjoying the benefits of this wonderful facility for years to come.”

The elegantly proportioned Aquatics Building provides locker rooms for students and coaches, training and equipment rooms, staff offices, and mechanical rooms for pool machinery. The majority of the structure is built with concrete masonry units stacked and coursed to resemble large stone blocks. The poolside façade features a dramatic colonnade and overhead trellis that provides continuous shade along the front of the building. Broad piers of Alaskan cedar form a dramatic “proscenium” through which swimmers enter and exit the pool area.

The centerpiece of the new facility is the deep-water pool (7’-6” throughout). Designed to host California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) competition swimming and water polo events, the pool is located in the middle of an expansive terrace of sand-colored concrete. A “rimless gutter” system allows the water surface to remain level with the adjacent deck. Waves created by swimmers move directly into this gutter instead of bouncing back and producing resistance. This feature not only results in a faster pool, it also provides a clean, modern appearance. The water’s crisp planar quality, together with its reflections of the ever-changing façade of the Aquatics Building, creates an exciting and dynamic space.

Energy Conservation Features
The Aquatics Building is set back into an adjacent hillside in front of a long retaining wall. This 12’ high wall keeps a large percentage of the building in shade throughout the day. This, together with the building’s 8” thick masonry walls, reduces interior heat gain and minimizes the need for air conditioning. To add to the project’s energy efficiency, a 25’ long solar panel array has been integrated into the roof of the building. Solar collectors assist with the year-round heating of the pool and reduce the project’s long-term energy consumption. To conserve water, the project landscaping is comprised primarily of drought-tolerant plants requiring little irrigation.