A landscape architect by training, Mark Hatchel stumbled into working with the aquatics industry almost by chance.
“Working on waterparks was something I never envisioned doing while in school,” he says. “My first job out of Texas A&M University was with a multidisciplinary design firm in Arlington, Texas. While there, one of my first projects was an old-fashioned L-shaped lap pool, but my real introduction to waterpark design came when Wet ’n Wild built its second waterpark in the United States down the street from our office.”
Hatchel went on to do virtually all of Wet ’n Wild’s annual capital improvement projects in the Orlando, Las Vegas and Texas parks, including award-winning attractions such as the Black Hole, Surge and Children’s Play Lagoon. In 1993, he joined Wet ’n Wild as director of architectural services and led design efforts on five major waterparks in South America. George Millay praised Hatchel’s design in his book The Wave Maker (Ripley Entertainment, 2004): “Hatchel’s work in Rio and Sao Paulo is a hallmark standard that will be copied for years to come.”
In 1999,Hatchel joined NBGS International and Schlitterbahn Waterparks as vice president of design and development. While at NBGS, Hatchel was the lead designer on Playa Maya, an award-winning, Mayan-themed waterpark in Shenzhen, China.
In his current position as associate and senior project manager at Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. in Dallas, he continues working with established waterparks, as well as municipalities and waterpark resorts. His nationwide practice includes master planning for Tierra del Sol, a $30 million outdoor waterpark resort in Orlando, Fla., and he has completed planning and construction documents for more than 30 municipalities. His current work includes projects in Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Texas.
“In over 25 years of waterpark design, I’ve been fortunate to work with some true pioneers and creative geniuses in the industry — George Millay, Jeff Henry and Ned Stancliff, just to name a few,” Hatchel says.