November 04, 2016 Lauren Perry Events, General News, Sustainability/LEED®

Kempsville Community Recreation Center Hard Hat tour

Last week some of the HBA Staff did an informal hard hat tour of Kempsville Community Recreation Center. With construction starting to come to an end, it was a great opportunity for our staff to get a sense of what the building will look like when it is finished! The project is a replacement for the old Kempsville Community Recreation Center, which was outdated and no longer serving the needs of the community. The new center will feature a large natatorium that contains a 6-lane competition pool with competition diving areas and a 25’ high glass rock climbing wall, a leisure-fun pool with a zero-entry beach and VB-themed play structures, and an aqua-track / lazy river element. The new center also includes a double gymnasium, 7,500 SF of fitness space, a dance/aerobics space, locker rooms and showers, 8 multi-purpose meeting rooms for community use, catering kitchen facilities, and administrative office space. An indoor walking / jogging track winds through the natatorium, gymnasium and public commons space.  The new center also includes 3 child-care classrooms with associated office and storage space for Parks and Recreation programs.



One of our favorite architectural features in the new recreation center is the exposed glue-lam beams. Twenty-six wooden beams fly over the entrance to the recreation, and continue through the fitness area and the natatorium. Typically these areas have boring, black ceilings with exposed ductwork. And who wants to look at that while they’re doing their morning laps in the pool? By adding the glue-lam beams, it gives a warm, inviting feel to the spaces while serving an important structural purpose!


Each of the glue-lam beams must be lifted by a crane and set perfectly into place, before being secured to the rest of the structure.kcrc_102716_124746

On the mezzanine floor, the walking/jogging track traverses through the gymnasium and other fitness areas, giving runners and walkers interesting views to enjoy while exercising.


As young architects, getting “in the field” experience is invaluable as it lets us see and learn from tricky situations that have come up in the construction process. For example, how do you build a 13 foot deep diving pool, when the water table in Virginia Beach is around 8 feet? The effect is similar to having a toy boat in a bathtub, you push the pool down and it constantly pops back up out of the ground. Having a moving pool or one that is constantly filling with water from the ground would likely scare more than a few children away from taking swimming lessons.

For a 13′ deep pool, you actually need to excavate about 15′ into the ground to allow space for the structure. That puts us almost 7′ below the water table! To make sure the pool stayed in the ground, the pool was secured with 30 foot long helical piles. Imagine taking 30′ long screws and screwing them down through the pool, deep into the ground!

Kempsville Recreation Center was designed to be a LEED Silver Certified building, and includes sustainable features such as a geo-thermal system, rapidly renewable materials, and highly efficient HVAC and plumbing systems.

We’re excited to see how construction has progressed on the new Kempsville Community Recreation Center, and we can’t wait for it to open next year!