Atlantic Coast Athletic Clubs set themselves apart in the health club industry,operationally and structurally. While many gyms cater to individuals who are already fit, ACAC’s primary mission is to reach out to inactive adults and their families. With a vision of creating a sanctuary for health and wellness, ACAC’s team of architects, designers and facility managers began planning a new club in downtown Charlottesville, Va., in 2004. The group gave primary consideration to how the facility’s aquatics center could inspire individuals to become more active.

To make fitness activities accessible to people of all ages and abilities, ACAC incorporated several special features into its downtown club’s aquatic space. In addition to a large activity pool for classes and lap swimmers, there’s a warm-water therapy pool with hydraulic resistance jets. In-house physical therapists and certified group instructors help individuals with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome experience the benefits of exercise.

Relaxation and rejuvenation also are important for overall health. After a satisfying workout, members can unwind in the hot tub spa. The rooftop oasis is another popular spot. With its tranquil vanishing-edge pool and scenic mountain views, this soothing space is the perfect retreat from the pressures of daily life.

In addition to providing exceptional amenities, the aquatics center is aesthetically attractive. Floor-to-ceiling windows line the exterior walls to help draw the natural light and outdoor environment into the facility. Imaginative design details, such as detailed leaf tile mosaics, add to the building’s aesthetic beauty. To complete the image, plants are plentiful throughout, adding color and life to spaces that might otherwise seem barren. Besides providing pleasant ambiance, lush greenery improves indoor air quality by minimizing airborne molds, dust and toxins. Some studies also have shown that plants lower stress levels and decrease blood pressure.

The adoption of organic processes and products in the facility benefits members and the environment. The facility relies on saltwater chlorination in the indoor and outdoor pools, which many believe is more economical, safe and eco-friendly than some alternatives. Saltwater pools produce no chloramine odor, and the water is gentler on swimmers eyes, skin and hair, and because saltwater chlorinators repeatedly recycle the salt, no byproduct wastes are added to the environment.

All told, in an effort to create a welcoming workout environment, ACAC’s downtown aquatics center merges comfort, beauty, utility and environmental awareness. By creating a retreat from daily pressures, ACAC is designed to inspire members to embrace their personal health and the environment.


Opened: 2007

Cost: $6 million

Aquatic space: 6,347 square feet

Dream amenities: Warm-water therapy pool with whirlpool spa, and 25-meter lap/activity pool; second outdoor pool with sun deck


  • Dream Designer: Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative
  • Aquatic Designer: Aquatic Structures
  • Pool Contractor: Alexander Nicholson Construction


  • Lochinvar Corp.:Heaters
  • Marathon Electric: Pumps
  • Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics: Filters, pumps
  • Pool Pak: Dehumidifiers
  • Safeway Electric: Lighting
  • Swim Gym: Water-play equipment
  • TMI: Chemical control systems
  • Treeforms: Lockers