Bethesda Park Aquatic Center is an award-winning part of a 2002 countywide master plan intended to broaden recreational opportunities in the Lawrenceville, Ga., community. Opened in early 2007, it includes 31,000 square feet of aquatic space designed to provide maximum functionality in a harmonious environment.

The highlight of the $7.5 million facility is a 6,863-square-foot, indoor leisure pool. Planned as a community attraction with lots of children’s play activities, the leisure pool features a beach entry and a number of amenities to entertain patrons of all ages. In this shallow-water pool is an interactive play structure highlighted by a toddler-friendly dump bucket; an air bubbler ring; three underwater benches, one with hydro-therapy jets; a spray ring mounted to the natatorium ceiling that produces a circular shower effect; a 19-foot-diameter vortex pool; a 17-foot-high, indoor/outdoor tube water slide; and a 7-foot-wide, 170-foot-long current channel.

Accompanying the leisure pool is a smaller instructional pool measuring 2,552 square feet. Planned to accommodate lap swimming, learn-to-swim classes and adapted aquatics programming, the instructional pool includes a ramp entry, four 25-yard lap lanes, and a step entry with a secondary means of ADA-compliant access.

Set on wooded parkland, the building complements the surrounding environment. For example, the sloping metal roofs rise and dip according to the necessities of the space inside, allowing for a fluid, sculptural shaping of the enclosure. Metal canopies and sun screens enliven the facades with additional detail, while mitigating glare and heat in the common areas.

Inside, the two pools are separated by glass walls, reducing noise while creating a feeling of open space and allowing daylight to filter through. The glass walls also provide views of the trees and adjacent nature trails.

In developing the project, the design team planned for the long term. Durable materials, metal roofing and simple forms were used to minimize maintenance, maximize building life, simplify operations and ultimately create an aquatics facility capable of providing instruction, fitness and leisure programming for years to come.

“Bethesda Park Aquatic Center is an incredible facility that people of every age group and interest enjoy,” notes Jim Cyrus, aquatics manager for Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation.  “We’ve had really positive feedback from the local community, which loves having such an amazing facility nearby.”


Aquatic space: 31,000 square feet

Year opened: 2007

Cost: $7,500,000

Dream feature: 6,863-square-foot indoor leisure pool that includes a play structure, vortex pool and current channel.


  • Dream Designer: Richard Wittschiebe Hand
  • Pool Consultants: Counsilman-Hunsaker
  • Civil Consultant: Hayes James & Associates
  • Landscape Architects: jB+A
  • Mechanical & Plumbing Engineering Consultants: Kirkpatrick Engineering
  • Electrical Consultants: Womack & Associates


  • Chemical Control Systems: Siemens Stranco
  • Cleaner Vacuums:Aqua Products Inc.
  • Dehumidifiers: PoolPak International
  • Filters: Neptune-Benson Inc.
  • Gutters: Sta-Rite
  • Handicapped Equipment:Recreonics Inc.
  • Ladders/Grab Bars:Spectrum Products   
  • Lane Markers: Competitor Swim Products
  • Lighting: Forum Lighting
  • Lockers: Scranton Products
  • Pumps: Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics
  • Sanitization Systems: Aqua-Rec Inc.
  • Water-Play Structures: Whitewater West Industries Ltd.
  • Water Slides: SplashTacular Inc.