As the world’s only comic book playground, Chaos waterpark at Metropolis Resort is designed to thrill guests and encourage exploration and imagination.
The Metropolis Hotel opened in 2008 and Chaos Waterpark was completed in 2009. From the beginning, operators wanted to stay away from “been there, done that” resort theming. No wildlife, outdoors, tropical getaway or Northwoods here. In the end the design team came up with the unique comic book/superhero theme, playing off the theme of the adjoining Action City, a 55,000-square-foot family entertainment center. The idea became “mayhem city” and from there, alien tripods, train wrecks, subways systems, tidal waves and other forms of destruction came about. As the theme progressed, the concept of heroes versus villains was born, the name Chaos was chosen, and the comic book playground developed.
To incorporate the theme further, owner Mark Steil, commissioned Twin Cities-based JT Murals to add to the imagery. The only direction given was a desire for “destruction” and lots of colors to keep your eyes moving. Based on that, the mural designer came up with an “I spy”-type concept. That means there’s no way you can see everything in just a glance around the park. You can study the murals for hours and keep finding new things. Nothing makes sense in Chaos and that’s exactly what designers were striving for. Also, there are lots of bright blues and greens to work with the lighting to make the park bright and airy feeling.
Behind the scenes, this waterpark resort is revolutionary for utilization of green-friendly innovations. To reduce water, heat and chemical consumption, regenerative filters were selected. To reduce natural gas consumption, pool water is heated with waste heat from the hotel though an advanced heat recycling system. To reduce energy required for heating and ventilation, an optical population counter provides input to automatically modulate fan speeds using variable frequency drives. This means ventilation is adjusted based on the number of patrons, with a reduction in air flow when fewer people are in the park.
The water treatment system circulates 950 gallons of water a minute, providing treatment seven times above the industry standard, making Chaos one of Wisconsin’s cleanest waterparks, while reducing the amount of water wasted in the process. Additionally, Energy Star™ equipment is used whenever possible and low draw lighting delivers the same bright spaces with much less energy used.
While it was always the intent to incorporate many green technologies as part of the new hotel and waterpark, it was definitely a trial to integrate the systems of the waterpark into the previously built hotel. Getting all systems working correctly can be a challenge in itself, but to “hook-up” to the primary existing heating/cooling loop while creating as little disruption as possible posed significant, additional challenges. With the cooperation of the hotel and waterpark staff, and some innovation and motivation, the technologies integrated smoothly without disturbing the hotel guests.
In addition to environmenta sustainability, safety is another key consideration at Metropolis Resort. The waterpark features a closed cell flooring with a skid proof surface that is soft and cushioning. This system, the first of its kind to be approved through the Wisconsin Department of Health and Department of Commerce, is the first to be installed in the state of Wisconsin. It has virtually eliminated poolside injuries and reduces the insurance costs drastically.
Innovation did not end with the flooring and energy systems. The owner had a completely custom-made play feature built on site. Typically, such features are completely designed before construction, allowing the state to appropriately review the system in its entirely. Yet the innovative feature that was created was the result of a lot of hard work between artists and engineers to develop a unique feature that was eye-catching and yet appropriate for use by the general public. Other attractions include a 400-foot-long lazy river, several waterslides, and a hot tub.
To make this project work, cost saving methods throughout construction received much effort. Significant cost savings were realized through local labor. Metropolis was built with much of its labor coming from local sources. Many of those involved in the project were located within a 20-mile radius of the site. Not only was this environmentally friendly, but also promoted local jobs in the area, keeping the community at work.
In developing Metropolis Resort, operators set out to fill a need in the community. Today, the end result is an entertainment complex, boutique hotel and 30,000 square foot indoor waterpark that provides a memorable entertainment experience in Eau Claire.
NUTS & BOLTS
Total Construction Cost: $4 million
Aquatic space: 30,000 square feet
Dream amenities: Several waterslides, The Tsunami River (lazy river), kiddie pool, hot tub and leisure pool
- Dream Designer: Ramaker & Associates
- Architect: Architectural Design Group
- Pool Contractor: Badger Swimpools Inc.
- Theming Contractor:ThemeScapes Inc.
- General Contractor: Steil Builders
- Aurora Pumps: Pumps
- Barry Thompson Innovations: Cleaners/vacuums
- BECS Technology: Chemical controllers
- JT Mural Painting & Restoration: Muralist
- Lochinvar Corp.: Heaters
- Nemato Corp.: Filters
- Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics: Lighting
- S.R. Smith: Ladders/grab bars
- Steil Builders: Enclosures
- ThemeScapes Inc.: Flooring, water-play equipment