Credit: Tom Crane
Overbrook School for the Blind - Kappen Aquatic Center | Philadelphia
The Overbrook School for the Blind - Kappen Aquatic Center serves visually impaired students ranging in age from 3 to 21. Surfaces were chosen to help users identify changes in location or site condition. Nonslip deck tiles help define areas, while contrasting colors and textures indicate edges that are not to be crossed. Confetti-colored wall tiles artistically reference the prismatic makeup of light while functioning as a visual tool to help partially sighted clients with depth perception. The students generally have highly sensitive hearing, so certain features were chosen for their sound-attenuating abilities, such as a special acoustic roof deck at the ceiling, sound-absorbing treatments toward the top of the walls and ductwork made of fabric.
Many students also have other disabilities, so access was an issue. The competition pool, which serves a swim team, includes a ramp, chair lift, steps and ladders. One entrance is at 4 feet, gradually moving to 3 feet in the center of the pool.
Officials sought an energy-efficient facility to replace a 102-year-old structure. With their energy-saving strategies, designers accumulated 53 LEED credits, making the Kappen Center the first natatorium to receive LEED platinum status.