Spieker Aquatics Center and Dirks Pool University of California Los Angeles

Los Angeles, Calif.
Construction Cost: $10.62 million
Area / Square Feet: 38,976
Occupancy Date: October 2009

Spieker Aquatics Center includes an outdoor 52-meter-by-25-yard, deep-water competition pool with an iconic 10-meter dive tower, spectator seating for 800 with the ability to add 1,700 temporary seats, team locker rooms, a coaches’ facility, ticketing and vending, and an outdoor classroom. The movable bulkhead enables concurrent use of the pool by varsity men’s and women’s water polo teams and swimming and diving teams.

The new aquatics center replaced four former tennis courts, but reused the existing spectator bleachers. The design links the new aquatics center to the existing Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, additional tennis courts, an arrival circle and adjacent parking.

The distinctive dive tower is visible upon entering the site and is an icon at the head of the pool for those inside the facility. The structure is elegantly expressed in an ipe wood, opaque glass floating screen and colored concrete structure, helping to unify the project. The tower also creates a dramatic centerpiece by filtering light and casting intricate shadows with sunlight during the daytime, and as an architectural lantern during evening events.

The low, horizontal main building houses team locker rooms, support spaces and pool equipment, while anchoring the southern boundary of the site. To accommodate natural ventilation and daylight, the barrel-vaulted roof is raised off the building walls. The roof edge has a custom fabric infill panel, and this overhang both shades the building and directs ventilation under the roof, over the walls and into the building. The central portion of the roof is interrupted with fabric apertures that bring daylight deep into the internal spaces. In order to provide flexibility regarding available funding, the building was designed to allow for future phasing and expansion.

Judge's Comments

Excellent use of nontraditional materials makes the diving tower a real showpiece.
— Colleen McKenna

This is a beautifully executed project that elevates a simple program into a striking piece of architecture. The combination of a consistent and rich material palette with impeccable detailing set this project apart.
— Duff Balmer

The designer took this simple project and created a memorable experience for both the athlete and the fan. A tribute to Ôless is more.'
— Dwayne Brinkley