The city of Commerce, CA, recently completed work on a $15 million aquatorium/recreational center that promises to serve as the state-of-the-art role model for future metropolitan recreational facilities across the nation.

Whether it’s the custom-cut Rosa stone exterior that was imported from Arizona or the exposed, custom-installed ductwork that keeps the swimming space conditioned and dry, this Los Angeles suburb has cut no corners in the 56,000-sq-ft Rosewood Park Community Center’s construction. The aquatorium has a 117- by 35-ft competition pool with a moveable bulkhead, plus a 75- by 20-ft warm-up pool.

Other communities have built bare bones aquatoriums for much less, but this center promises to be the crown jewel of the Los Angeles area’s recreational facilities, according to Ramiro Herrera, project manager from construction firm Harris & Associates (Concord, CA). “This facility is strictly top shelf, no holds were barred in its design or its construction,” said Herrera.

Adds Michael Cacioppo, project manager for Aire Masters (Santa Fe Springs, CA), “This building is state-of-the-art hvac design using the best equipment available in the industry.”

Air Stays Dry, Pool Stays Wet

Anchored by two DS-182 Dry-O-Tron® dehumidifiers manufactured by Dectron Internationale (Roswell, GA) the 20,000-sq-ft natatorium’s high-efficiency dehumidification/air conditioning system features ductwork with custom installation techniques facilitated by Aire Masters. Inexpensive rectangular ductwork could have been hung parallel to the pool surface, however designers opted for the more aesthetic look of 54-in.-round, double-wall aluminum duct that will be installed to closely form the arched roof’s contours. Following those contours with round duct is a difficult task, according to Cacioppo.

Nearly every connection necessitated a small degree elbow that was “slipped” to an angle allowing the next straight piece of duct to closely follow the roof contour.

According to the hvac system calculation and design of consulting engineers, Hayakawa Assoc. (Los Angeles), the Dry-O-Tron units will remove up to 500 lbs/hr of moisture. Humid aquatorium air is collected through two large grilles and dry air is distributed through registers all custom-made with stainless steel materials by the Anemostat Products division of Dynamics Corp. of America (Scranton, PA). This will ensure that the many spectators and swimmers expected to attend the facility’s future competitive swim meets won’t be subjected to balmy or odorous conditions. It will also ensure a clear, condensate-free view out of the aquatorium’s 25-ft-high, 140-ft-long run of windows.

While distributing the comfortable 50% rh, the airflow in the aquatorium is also relatively quiet due to duct silencers provided by Industrial Acoustics (Bronx, NY).

The center’s aquatorium is just another example of Commerce’s progressiveness. Nearly 40 years ago, the late Hollywood actor Lloyd Bridges christened what was the premiere natatorium of its time. Although it served as a swim training facility for many U.S. Olympians in the 1960s, the natatorium pool’s size limitations prevented the facility from becoming a popular competitive swimming venue. The 19,000-sq-ft building, which has since been bypassed by decades of technological improvements, succumbed to the wrecking ball last summer.

Probably the greatest improvement between the two swimming venues is the indoor air quality, which was laden with pungent and uncomfortable humidity in the older building. Modern dehumidification, which entered the indoor swimming scene in the 1970s, is a featured segment of the natatorium’s high-tech hvac system.

The hvac system designed for areas outside the natatorium, such as the city’s public access television station, food service outlet, and weight/aerobic center is as energy efficient as the swimming area. A total building automation system by Landis & Staefa (Buffalo Grove, IL) monitors and controls all aspects of the hvac systems to get maximum convenience and efficiency. Two rooftop DX units by McQuay International (Minneapolis) will supply air conditioning to a network of variable-air volume (VAV) boxes manufactured by the Enviro-Tech division of Tjernlund Products (White Bear Lake, MN). For heating, the VAV box reheat coils will tap a hot water loop supplied by a Raypak (Westlake Village, CA) boiler system. M.R. McGuire Co. (Monarch Beach, CA) is the piping contractor providing the mechanical piping services on the project.

Another Happy Customer

No one is more pleased with the outcome of the project than James Jimenez, director of parks and recreation, City of Commerce, CA.

Jimenez said there has not been any moisture on either the walls, ceiling, pipes, or the extraordinarily large amount of windows at the new natatorium.

He has made special efforts to examine the building for excess moisture because he has been incredulous during the initial design meetings when he was told that dehumidification would keep the facility dry. Previously he felt that excess humidity was inherent in indoor pools. The reason for his skepticism was based on the fact that several other natatoriums in the Los Angeles area seemed to have humidity problems. Plus the city’s indoor pool that this natatorium replaced suffered a multitude of moisture problems from a dehumidifier that never worked properly from its inception.

“I’ve made special attempts to kept an eye on the humidity in the new natatorium and I’m quite surprised that the comfort level has been maintained. I didn’t think it was possible to keep a facility of this size at a comfortable humidity,” Jimenez said.ES