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Aquatic Transformation

By Victoria Webster, Former Project Assistant, Essenza Architecture

Scott Carpenter Park and Pool is a community park located in Boulder, Colorado, that provides a wide variety of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, a skate park, an open turf field, diamond fields, and a space-themed playground in honor of the park’s namesake, astronaut, and aquanaut Scott Carpenter, a former Boulder resident. Over the past several years, the pool facilities
have undergone a major renovation and transformation that represents what was desired most by the community, user groups, and stakeholders. The design team was tasked with creating an iconic, state-of-the-art facility that promotes inclusiveness, accessibility, sustainability, and durability while honoring and nurturing the existing mature trees and established an astronaut theme. We transformed and repurposed the existing building into a low-maintenance, durable facility with a warm mountain feel that reflects the Flatiron formations in the foothills of Boulder.

The renovated facility opened in the summer of 2020 and included a new 50-meter outdoor pool, a double waterslide tower, an 8,000 square foot recreation pool that includes a diving board, jumping platform, drop slide, climbing wall, lazy river, zero depth entry, and an outer-space themed water play feature. In addition to the pools, there is a 2,000-square-foot splash pad featuring a 20-foot-tall rocket ship that ties back to the existing historic rocket ship playground feature. Colorado has only a handful of outdoor 50-meter pools, and this feature certainly makes Scott Carpenter Park a destination for competitive swimmers. The additional fun water amenities provide engaging activities for people of all ages. The heavily renovated bathhouse features durable materials alongside the existing preserved historic brick, an accessible design for all ages, and an undulating curved blue roof mimicking water waves to welcome visitors.

Outdoor design features include shade structures that are scattered throughout the deck in wave-like forms to provide much-needed cover from the Colorado sun. Shower towers are outside each locker room to encourage rinsing off before jumping into the pools. Low retaining walls and grass landscaping are provided in the patron lounging area. The facility offers ample bicycle parking and enlarges paths on all sides of the property, encouraging multi-modal transportation and accommodating increased traffic, an important goal for Boulder.

During COVID, the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation team has been adapting the use of the facility in innovative ways. The 50-meter pool is being used in the 25-meter direction so that more individual lanes are open, and swimmers can be socially distanced, allowing the facility to stay open. At other times of the day, the 50-meter pool is sectioned off into pods where families can swim together.

After several years of design collaboration and community outreach aimed to meet the community’s aquatic and park needs, the renovated facility is a top recreation destination for the City of Boulder and surrounding communities.