Like all recreational facility projects on the UT campus, The Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex was student-focused and established guiding principles centered on that theme. This facility has filled a campus void by offering new opportunities for recreation, socializing and community building.

Overall student use of Gregory Gym has increased since the facility opened. New opportunities for special events now are available on campus. Student organizations and departments have hosted socials, pool parties, concerts, dive-in movies and water recreation tournaments in the new facility.

The facility footprint transformed a parking lot and underutilized buildings into a highly functional and unique recreational space. The design incorporates the traditional feel of the UT campus with exciting new outdoor features.

This is a unique place for recreation and respite on the very urban campus in Austin. Grown from the highly successful recreation program, the Aquatic Complex offers dedicated informal recreation water space for active or passive use. Well-designed open deck areas are filled with sun and shade to meet needs of all users. Multiple recreation venues support traditional and nontraditional activities simultaneously.

This facility is specially crafted to support many activities throughout the day and night. With outstanding lighting for evening activities, most areas of the deck have multiple identities, changing from a sun-drenched pool complex by day to a richly detailed, resort-like atmosphere at night.

“Like No Place Else on Campus” is the slogan that UT RecSports uses to describe the Aquatic Complex.

Nestled in to an urban setting, the Aquatic Complex clearly fits into the university environs and commands its own place in the Texas Hill Country. Built with a large quantity of exposed limestone and native natural materials, the facility blends into the campus, integrating Waller Creek into its east perimeter.

The complex has unique neighbors with differing aesthetics. To relate to Waller Creek, the complex uses native plantings and incorporates vegetation on the hillside. On the west perimeter, Gregory Gym’s strong architectural forms and rigidly articulated detail serve as the complex’s border. The overall complex connects and interacts with its surroundings to create a great home for recreation.

Balancing budget against quality and constructability yields innovative design for the Gregory Aquatic Complex. Against the rich palette of natural limestone, the outdoor pool deck was crafted in multiple panels of colored and salt finished concrete to create an attractive, highly functional surface.

The “Lounge Ledge” provides an innovative and extremely popular venue for social recreation — or simple relaxation. This large pool area with a 6-inch water depth provides a wonderful place for partially submerged lounge chairs and semi-immersed pool bathers. It is the most popular spot at the leisure pool venue.

The reception garden is a unique venue within this facility. Using crushed limestone aggregate as the finished deck surface, this area creates a wonderfully soft and comfortable environment. Flanked by highly articulated multi-trunk trees and a bamboo forest, the garden is a place of special respite for recreational users.

Technology surrounds modern culture, and this facility uses it well to enhance the student experience. The entire outdoor deck is blanketed with WiFi connectivity. Exterior seating areas are reinforced with hard-wired Ethernet connections and duplex power for student access to campus networks.

The entire deck is laced with multiple sound system zones for distribution of background music and public address presentations. Multiple locations on deck support live music platforms with dynamic sound reinforcement opportunities.

The main control building for the outdoor pools is interlinked with the main control desk in Gregory Gym for parallel and redundant monitoring of systems and pool conditions.

This project was conceived during the work process in the mid-1990s that created the Campus Master Plan for the University of Texas at Austin. It creates a one-of-a-kind, student-focused space that endorses the rich heritage of this university.