For several years, the Adams 12 Five Star School District envisioned a regional aquatic venue that would support its high schools and middle schools. That vision is now Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center, a state-of-the-art venue hosting local, state and regional competitions.

The 52,000-square-foot facility includes a competitive 50-meter pool with moveable bulkheads and spectator seating for 800. The pool can be configured into 21, 25-meter practice lanes; 25-meter or 25-yard race lanes in the center; or a diving and warm-down configuration. The versatility of the bulkheads accommodates a variety of race formats and other water sports such as water polo and underwater hockey.

Before the aquatic center was built, swim teams from across the district practiced in the city’s only other indoor pool, which was considerably smaller, and teams had to rotate their practices. Now, several teams can hold practices simultaneously and the south wall of the building was constructed with knockout panels, removable to accommodate future expansion.

Spectator seating is located above the locker rooms, climate controlled via a dedicated HVAC unit. The air distribution system was designed to create a “wall” of cool air between the spectator seating and the warm pool environment, allowing spectators to view an event in the same physical space as the athletes at a more comfortable temperature. The HVAC unit is only operated during event hours to help conserve energy during non-event hours.

The pool dehumidification system is designed to work with Colorado’s high altitude and dry outside air, dehumidifying the space without the need for excessive energy expenditure. This system also introduces greater amounts of outside air than a conventional system to improve indoor air quality. They system’s air-to-air energy recovery reduces energy demands, and large ceiling fans create a constant, low-velocity air movement at the pool surface to lessen athlete discomfort while ensuring that potentially harmful chloramines are removed from the athletes’ breathing zone at the pool’s surface.

Further energy-efficient features include: high-performance windows; a daylit two-story lobby; a continuous translucent, insulated skylight in the natatorium; UV light and regenerative media filtration to disinfect the pool and reduce the need for chemicals; and advanced mechanical and electrical systems. Solar hot-water heating for the pool saves energy while also serving the function of a pool cover.

In addition, the building was oriented on the site to follow existing contours, reducing the required amount of cutting and filling of soil. The building’s design and placement also takes advantage of natural daylighting opportunities. Also, the future recreation center and aquatic parks will share parking on the site, diminishing the ecological footprint of the complex.

As a partner with the school district, the City of Thornton provided the land for the facility and today, with its state-of-the-art functionality and mechanical systems, the Adams 12 Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center is a huge hit.


Opened: 2010

Cost: $17 million

Aquatic space: 52,000 square feet

Dream amenities: The center includes a competitive 50-meter pool with moveable bulkheads and spectator seating for 800.


  • Dream Designer: Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture
  • Architect: Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture
  • Aquatic Designer: Water Technology Inc.
  • Civil & Structural Engineer: Martin & Martin
  • Electrical Engineer: Architectural Engineering Design Group
  • Landscape Architect:DHM Design
  • Mechanical & Plumbing Engineers: The Ballard Group
  • Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson


  • Antiwave Pool Products: Lane markers
  • BECS Technology: Chemical control systems
  • Bradley Corp.: Lockers
  • Colorado Time Systems/Paragon Aquatics: Competition equipment
  • Engineered Treatment Systems: Sanitization equipment
  • Innovent: Dehumidifiers
  • Lawson Aquatics: Gutters
  • Maytronics: Cleaners/vacuums
  • Neptune-Benson: Filters
  • Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics: Pumps
  • Spectrum Products: Access ramps/stairs, cleaners/vacuums, ladders/grab bars, diving boards
  • Stark: Bulkheads
  • Trane: Heaters