El Centro Aquatic Center About the Client/Project: El Centro, the largest city in Imperial County, requested a new aquatic facility including two new buildings: a 5100 sf Aquatic Center, and a 2000 sf. Pump House. As subconsultant to the Civil Prime, Platt/Whitelaw provided architectural, structural, mechanical/plumbing and electrical design services for the buildings only. Project Challenge: The physical contraints included a long site with a rounded corner which left minimal space for the buildings once the pools, pool decks, parking and storm water retention were incorporated. The site is also in a transitional area and a crime that occurred after initial design resulted in an additional emphasis on security. Finally, the project team was complex with many stakeholders. The Parks and Recreation Department, the Engineering Division, City Council members, and the community, all played vital roles during the design of the project. We were able to successfully navigate this multiple approval process. Architectural Solution: Because the pump house had minimum size requirements based on the required pool equipment, it was designed first. After this the central core of main Aquatic Center building was designed and consisted of toilet rooms, showers and the minimum spaces required by code for the facility to function. A party room, concessions area, storage and other spaces requested by the owner and users were then added onto each side of this core. If the building needed to be reduced in size due to site constraints, or budget, these side spaces could be removed and the facility could still operate. Materials were chosen to minimize costs, be durable, and reduce maintenance. Halls were oriented for sight lines throughout the building and glass barriers were added between staff and public areas to safeguard staff while simultaneously welcoming the public with playful and colorful materials. Monthly meetings with the owner, design charrettes with the community, and meetings with the future building’s staff and users, began early in the design process and allowed input from stakeholders to be incorporated into the design throughout the process. Final Result: The project opened October 2019 (reopened 9/29/2020 after Covid-19 closed it for a time). In 2021, the El Centro Aquatic Center was recognized by California Parks and Recreation Society (CPRS), for Excellence in Design. Photos by Mike Torrey Photography.