THE AQUATIC WING
of Virginia Aquatic and Fitness Center
The Aquatic and Fitness Center on the Grounds of the University of Virginia was designed by the Hughes Group Architects of Sterling, Virginia; construction was completed in July, 1996. The facility serves an array of social, recreational and competitive intercollegiate programs at the university. Designed as a village of forms, the building mass includes an administrative and social wing, aquatics wing, and a future gymnasium that surround a two level skylit fitness atrium from which all the recreational spaces are observed and accessed.
of Aquatic and Fitness Center (1st Floor)
Student investigations in this Case Study were limited to the unique environmental conditions created in the aquatic wing and the consequential performance of the building envelope. Contained in the 120 ft. x 253 ft. aquatics venue is the main 50 meter pool along with three warm water therapy pools. State of the art features include electronic timers, wave quelling systems and temperature controls to enhance the performance of competitive swimmers and divers; an energy reclaim mechanical system contributes to the facilities operations efficiency.
of Aquatic and Fitness Center (3rd Floor including mechanical equipment)
A class of eighteen students was engaged in this project, sixteen of whom were graduate architecture students enrolled in their first environmental control systems course. Initial site visits and discussions with administrators, swim team coaches and aquatic staff revealed a very high degree of recreational and competitive user satisfaction. The students learned numerous facts and contributed observations which are summarized as follows:
Exercise Room overlooking Pool Area
The physical evidence clearly suggests that the design architects and engineers carefully crafted the building envelope assemblies and the interacting air supply/return system to assure a comfortable thermal environment for the scantily-clad swimmers, while concurrently preventing condensation from forming on the envelope surfaces.
This hypothesis challenged students to formulate appropriate questions and identify environmental issues that would guide their investigations and ultimately test the accuracy of the hypothesis:
METHOD OF INVESTIGATION
When Spring semester classes commenced in mid-January, 1998, this Case Study project was introduced to the class as a component of the semester course work. While the students were enthusiastic about participating in the project, it was essential to focus the first three weeks on lectures and assignments introducing fundamental principles of comfort, psychrometrics, climate and thermal transfer. By mid-February, through site visit observations and discussions with aquatic facility personnel, the students felt sufficiently informed about the environmental issues to prepare a ‘hypothesis statement’ along with investigative questions.
A number of tasks were identified that required intermittent
student participation throughout the semester. At times it was a communal
effort; various students helping-out on several tasks as needed and as
available time permitted. The major investigative efforts were associated
with the following areas:
Of obvious importance were the decisions regarding placement of the data loggers at the aquatic facility. The accompanying photographs show the installed locations. Two Aquatic Center staff members performed the installations using a telescopic Genie Powerlift machine. Unfortunately, operating height limitations of the machine prevented placement of any data loggers at either the inside roof or skylight surfaces.
The installed HOBO locations recorded data for the outside air, the East and South inside wall surfaces, the return air, and on each side of the West interior wall which divided the aquatic space from the fitness/exercise room. The loggers were launched and preset to begin recording from February 24 through March 24 at 10 minute intervals; the full 8K storage capacity was utilized. On March 26 the data was transferred and downloaded to the computing facilities at the School of Architecture.
Drawings and Specifications
Assisted by the Facilities Management Resource Center at the university, students reviewed and secured copies of all relevant construction drawings and specifications. While nearly all the required information was provided on these documents concerning the envelope materials and assembly details, several phone conversations with the Hughes Group Architects clarified information on certain issues.
Data Analysis and Results
The project schedule allocated the month of April to review the large
array of recorded data, and to identify specific dates which the measurements
from all the loggers would be compiled as a compsite of simultaneous environmental
conditions. Temperature gradient calculations, details concerning
the vapor barrier materials, and other envelope performance characteristics
were studied. From this aggregate data conclusions about the environmental
design and envelope performance could be drawn.