Wave themes have had a tidal influence on aquatic center design, but few facilities carry the aesthetic to grander heights than the Emerald Glen Recreation & Aquatic Complex in Dublin, Calif.

Though the facility features an outdoor pool, designers at Dahlin Group Architecture Planning wanted a separate indoor pool to feel as outdoor as possible. The steel-framed building features a glass storefront system, topped with ETFE roofing material — a first for Northern California. In trying to avoid the typical barrel vault ETFE application, Dahlin Group senior principal Mario Aiello rotated the curve toward one edge, where the ETFE material is sculpted, suggesting the motion of a breaking wave. A drywall and tile wave shape, with still more vertical glass above it, soars 28 feet above the pool deck from one corner of the natatorium to the other and is repeated in wood on the building exterior, reinforcing the wave motif indoors and out. "The wave really floats in this whole banner of glass," Aiello says. "Physically, when you get inside the architecture and you get to actually experience the space, it really does feel like something's coming over you. It's very iconic. It's very fun. Everybody really loves the space."

This article originally appeared in the July | August 2019 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Natatorium carries wave motif to new heights." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.