Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center
Arlington County, Virginia
Client : Arlington County
Area : 92,000 sf
Program : Aquatic Center (8-Lane 50m Competition Pool, 4-Lane 25m Leisure Pool with Therapy Area, Lap Pool, Toddler Pool, Water Slide, Spectator Seating, Changerooms), Fitness Center, Community Meeting Rooms, Multi-Purpose Community Rooms, Administrative and Support Spaces, Outdoor Program (Multi-Use Trails, Public Art)
Associated Architects : Page
Located north of the Crystal City neighbourhood of Arlington, Virginia, the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Centre will meet the County’s pressing need for new amenities. MJMA’s inclusive, program-driven design harmonizes landscape and building to demonstrate the idea of sustainability as an everyday connection between community and environment.
The structure is sited in an area newly annexed to an existing 30-acre park running along a northeast–southwest axis on the north shore of the Potomac River. To the north and west, the site is bounded by interstate on-ramps, and to the southeast, by a new extension to an elevated esplanade that runs the length of the existing park, providing elevated views of its sports fields on one side and of the river on the other.
The east end of the 92,000-square-foot Center is turned over to an aquatics hall with a 50-metre competition pool and bleacher seating for 500 spectators, a lap pool, a leisure pool with a therapy area, a zero-depth-entry play and teaching pool, and a waterslide. Another 10,000 square feet are dedicated to a health and fitness space including weights, cardio, and a group fitness studio, as well as two community rooms, three multipurpose rooms, admin offices, and support spaces.
The structure’s park-facing elevations are defined by two generous entrance porches protected by deep setbacks—one to the southeast, opening the Center up to the extended portion of the esplanade, the other to parking on the west—creating new opportunities for public activity. Responsive to its site, the Center nestles into the landscape, its folded origami-like roof accentuating the park’s topology; the same motif is mirrored on the interior by the folds of the aquatics hall ceiling. Taking advantage of the sloping terrain, the aquatics hall’s basins are set low on the site so that visitors can look from the lobby level over the bleachers and down to the pool below.
Besides the landscaped addition to the esplanade, plans for the exterior include community gathering spaces, networked pathways and integrated art, all developed according to a stormwater management strategy. The property—circumscribed by highways and train tracks, and situated right on the river—posed significant challenges for energy conservation, air and water quality, and building envelope integrity. By approaching the building holistically, co-ordinating program and structure with passive and active systems and energy use, MJMA is on track to meet LEED Silver equivalence.