This article appeared in the June issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
Where can you dive off a glacial shelf into 85-degree water? At Toronto's CIBC Pan Am and Parapan Am Aquatics Center and Field House, that's where. It's not a giant block of ice on the pool deck, but rather a dive tower clad in white precast concrete featuring relief "fissures" filled with blue ceramic tile.
Five-inch-thick tower wall panels were manufactured off-site at a cost rivaling poured-in-place cladding and dropped through a hole in the Centre's otherwise finished roof. Precast dive platforms likewise assume the look of nature's own sculpture, with the tower's steel infrastructure bearing their weight — 50,000 pounds for the 10-meter platform alone — and a unique design feature has divers approach the 3-meter platform through a cave-like opening.
The shifting, sliding lines of the tower at large are reminiscent of the building's exterior, designed to resemble the tectonic landscape of this region of Ontario. "In the main atrium lobby there are walls that are canted, creating a sense of movement, and that was carried through to the dive tower, where these glacier pieces are shifting," says Andrew Schmidt, senior design architect/associate at NORR Architects in Toronto. "It's different, and it's quite purposefully making the dive tower something special and a centerpiece that speaks to the building as a whole."
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Dive tower rises to level of sculpture"