The Salinas Municipal Aquatic Center, completed in September 2009,is part of a larger recreational complex that includes a community center, sports complex, rodeo grounds and a municipal stadium. The new facility replaced an outdated existing aquatic facility, which was operated until the opening of the new aquatic center, and is now closed and waiting to be re-purposed.

Overall, the Aquatic Center occupies a prominent space within the existing park and recreation complex and provides a strong sense of place. The transparent nature of the natatorium creates a strong identity and allows from views into the facility from the adjacent park activities as well as views outward into the park.

Inside, the new natatorium features a 73-foot-by-75-foot pool along with support spaces that include a lobby, office, lifeguard room, men’s and women’s locker rooms, storage space, and mechanical space. The natatorium is enclosed using a pre-engineered aluminum greenhouse-like structure with an operable roof system that allows up to 50 percent of the roof to be opened. The natatorium HVAC unit is inter-connected to the operable roof system and shuts down as soon as the roof is opened. The pre-engineered structure consists of translucent polycarbonate roof panels, essentially creating a skylight over the entire natatorium.

The project also includes additional parking connecting to the existing parking lot, a new entry plaza, storm water retention areas and bioswales to filter the site runoff water.

In developing plans for the new facility, the Parks and Community Services Department created a community survey and held several community meetings to identify residents’ priorities and ensure the new facility design included residents’ input. To further ensure community input into the design process, the city also worked closely with the Salinas Community Pool Foundation to create alternate plans for incorporating elements identified and prioritized by the community into the project design. The completed aquatic center incorporates the community needs efficiently and economically within the resources that were available to construct the facility.

One key consideration was options for future expansion. The site design allows space for growth, and the current HVAC system is sized to accommodate expansion. The pre-engineered aluminum structure can also be easily modified and expanded to accommodate future development.

The project is also forward-thinking in that the aquatic center was conceived and designed with a high level of environmental awareness. Cost effective and appropriate sustainable building practices were incorporated throughout, and the facility has received LEED Gold Certification. Energy-efficient features include the use of natural day lighting throughout the facility, energy-efficient pool heaters, light fixtures, space conditioning equipment, direct digital controls, thermal pool covers, a UV pool water filter system, and low water use plumbing fixtures.

A dehumidification unit conditions the natatorium area. Dehumidification is achieved with 100 percent outside air, which creates better air quality and saves energy compared with a mechanical dehumidification system. The natatorium dehumidification unit includes an air-to-air heat exchanger for heat recovery, further reducing energy use and operation costs. Indirect evaporative cooling is used to cool the air when necessary, while still controlling humidity. Additionally, a fully-integrated modulating economizer allows for space cooling with outside air when conditions allow, and the project includes the space and infrastructure for a future photovoltaic system. Overall the building exceeds California Energy Efficiency Standards by 25 percent.

To decrease maintenance costs and increase efficiency, durable low maintenance materials were incorporated throughout the project. The pre-engineered aluminum structure that encloses the natatorium is composed of an aluminum structure along with glass and polycarbonate panels, which are all low maintenance and corrosion resistant.  High-density plastic lockers, as well as toilet and shower partitions were incorporated into the locker rooms. The plastic lockers and partitions are also more corrosion- and vandal-resistant than metal lockers and partitions. The HVAC system uses 100 percent outside air so that the chemical laden interior air is not recycled through the natatorium. The pool deck and locker room floors are concrete sloped to drain, which reduces maintenance.

The aquatic center’s planning also maximizes staff efficiency and functionality, allowing for easy supervision of the facility by the building staff. The lobby/reception area is positioned to allow for sight lines to the main entry and locker room entries. The lifeguard office is located adjacent to the pool deck with storefront glazing to allow for unobstructed views to the pool deck. The swim center office is located behind the reception area and opens out onto the pool deck allowing for efficient staff operation. The building systems and site were designed to allow future expansion to the east; expansion is expected to include an indoor water slide (possibly with multiple flumes), splash down/therapy pool, a splashpad and/or other water-play features.

Today, the Salinas Municipal Aquatic Center offers a variety of programs for a range of ages and user groups, including classes for beginning swimmers and advanced programs. Exercise programs are also offered to promote health and wellness. The facility is also used by local swim teams for meets and events.


Opened: 2009

Cost: $8.5 million

Aquatic space: 11,000 square feet

Dream amenities: The natatorium features a 73-foot-by-75-foot pool, with a 1-meter diving board. 


  • Dream Designer: Glass Architects
  • Architect: Glass Architects
  • Aquatic Designer: Counsilman-Hunsaker
  • Civil Engineer: Humber Design Group
  • Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer: C&B Engineers
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Landscape Architect: Bellinger Foster Steinmetz • Landscape Architecture
  • Electrical Engineer: O’Mahony & Myer


  • Bradley Corp.: Lockers
  • Brock Enterprises: Lane markers
  • Chemtrol: Chemical control systems
  • Duraflex Intl.: Diving board
  • Lawson Aquatics: Gutters
  • Munters: Dehumidifier
  • Nemato: Filter
  • OpenAire Inc.: Enclosure
  • Paco Pumps: Pumps
  • Paragon Aquatics: Starting blocks
  • Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics: Lighting
  • Raypak Inc.: Heaters
  • Recreonics: Accessible lifts, cleaners/vacuums
  • Siemens Water Technologies: UV filtration
  • Spectrum Products: Covers, ladders, grab bars