While the residents were outnumbered by the consultants, those that did attend the workshop walked away with a new vision of just what a swimming pool could be.
The workshop was the second held in Walltown; the first took input from the community to help consultants develop three preliminary design options.
Not that there's any commitment or funding to build this add-on to the facility at this point, mind you. City Council approved $1 million some time ago to perform design services on the structure, but as we noted in coverage of last month's Walltown Recreation Center groundbreaking, there's no capital funding source identified to pay for this facility.
Skanska reps gave a brief presentation on the design of the Walltown Recreation Center. But the majority of the night was given over to presentations by Louis Cherry of Cherry Huffman Architects, the main consultant for the project, and Carl Nylander of Counsilman Hunsaker, an aquatic specialist subcontractor.
All three designs use the same proposed building footprint close to W. Club Blvd., and all three are connected to the Recreation Center with a connection between the buildings and a separate entrance from the outside.
The building itself would incorporate a lot of natural lighting and looks strikingly similar to both the DPAC and Durham Station, although Cherry did note that this design was extremely preliminary.
More interesting than the outside of the building are the preliminary designs of the pool area itself. I have to admit that my vision walking into the workshop was the type of pool that I grew up with: a traditional rectangular pool with lap lanes, some water sports equipment, and a few new features like noodles -- and maybe, if you're lucky, a locker room that doesn’t automatically give you athlete’s foot.
The lap lanes are there, along with the water sports areas (and hopefully the athlete’s foot-proof locker rooms).
But alongside the more traditional features are things like tot areas with playground-like equipment, a current channel, water cannons, open water area, water slide, vortex (which resembles a big toilet bowl), and even a rock climbing wall. Topping it all off, the entire facility is designed to be "themed out."
While each design was slightly different and had a different mix features, the overall themes were very similar: An asymmetrical pool design, an observation deck on the 2nd floor, and -- perhaps most importantly to residents -- features that fit all ages and types of programs. Each design incorporates areas for young children, teenagers, adults, and seniors; there are also plenty of opportunities for various uses such as exercise, rehabilitation and just plain fun.
The general consensus of the attendees was that the first design presented was preferred, mostly because it had the largest overall square footage, a generous open pool area, clear delineation of uses, and a large rock climbing wall.
Most of the questions from residents revolved around building materials, what green building practices might be included, and what type of theme might be incorporated. The aquatics specialist mentioned themes like pirates and beaches, while the architect for the rec center came up with a Durham Bulls theme. (This correspondent's concept of a tobacco warehouse theme was also discussed.)
The next steps in the process include incorporating feedback from the workshop to finalize the initial designs, put cost estimates on each alternative, and -- most significantly, and in the short run, perhaps fruitlessly -- taking the designs to City Council who will have to decide how to proceed.